Nancy Wyman became Connecticut’s lieutenant governor in January 2011, but her public service career spans more than 30 years. She served as Connecticut’s first female comptroller, during which time she laid the foundation for HUSKY (Healthcare for Uninsured Kids and Youth) and oversaw the modernization of computer systems that run the state’s finances. In August, the state received millions of federal grant dollars to establish a health benefit exchange (HBE), which will give residents affordable options for health-care coverage — an effort Wyman will spearhead.

How much federal money did the state get to start the HBE? Is it enough?

Connecticut’s been awarded $7.7 million for exchange planning and plans to apply for full implementation funding in March 2012. This final funding will allow us to secure resources for additional operational and functional development, as well as sustain the exchange through 2014. The funds secured seem sufficient for our initial planning efforts, but it remains unclear what level of funding will be necessary to adequately support implementation.

How does this impact state IT operations?

For the exchange to meet the requirement to enable Medicaid enrollment, there must be seamless integration between the Medicaid and CHIP [Children’s Health Insurance Program] eligibility system and the exchange IT infrastructure. One responsibility of the exchange is to inform consumers of the Medicaid and CHIP program requirements and, if eligible, enroll them. Key to the exchange’s successful operation will be development of a seamless interface between the exchange Web portal and the logic of the Medicaid and CHIP eligibility systems. Giving consumers the ability to enter information through the exchange portal, which automatically applies determination logic for state-sponsored eligibility, is essential. It’s also one of the most challenging technical tasks of the exchange implementation.

Will this create more jobs for the state?

The exchange initiative is broad in its reach and potential. It will enhance competition and provide opportunities on many different levels. The exchange structure is a quasi-public entity, which will benefit from the transparency and accountability of a government-run organization, but has the flexibility and nimble orientation of a private-sector company. The exchange will hire a new leadership team by mid-2012, followed by the next tier of management and staff for a projected total of 30-plus individuals.

Would it be beneficial to collaborate with other states on an HBE? Is this possible?

The decision of whether to operate a stand-alone exchange or participate in a multistate exchange is a complex question that we’ve just begun to assess. That decision will be based on which is the better path to achieve the goals, objectives, values and benefits of the state’s broad range of stakeholders.

Karen Stewartson  |  Managing Editor