HealthCare.gov to get dedicated CTO amid leadership changes

A new management structure is being put in place to run HealthCare.gov at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Andrew Slavitt, shown here testifying before Congress in October 2013, will join the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as principal deputy administrator -- part of a larger management restructuring at the agency.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is changing its management structure to give executives direct authority over the implementation of the 2010 health care law, in advance of the next open enrollment, which kicks off in November.

Andrew Slavitt, who led the contractor side of the tech surge to fix HealthCare.gov as group executive vice president for Optum, will join CMS as principal deputy administrator with oversight of agency program administration, including Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children's Health Insurance Program, as well as implementation of the health care overhaul. Slavitt testified before Congress last October that his firm had advised CMS that more testing was needed on the HealthCare.gov website before its troubled launch.

Optum is the division of United Health that runs contractor QSSI Inc., which was tapped to be general contractor for HealthCare.gov in a post-launch shuffle. QSSI was charged with setting up the complex data services hub that moves information between the government databases that verify claims of eligibility for insurance and building the identify management tool to register users. By all accounts, the data hub functioned well at launch, while the identity management system was overtaxed because of design and integration problems that initially barred users from shopping for plans without first setting up accounts.

CMS is also recruiting a CEO for the Marketplace system of health insurance exchanges, where individuals sign up for insurance under the law, and to run the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, which regulates insurance. The CEO will manage relationships with the states that run their own insurance exchanges, and will report to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, with what is described as a "dotted line" to Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the newly confirmed secretary of Health and Human Services. A new CTO position, reporting to the CEO, will be charged with the technical aspects of project management for HealthCare.gov operations and improvements.

Kurt DelBene, the former Microsoft executive who succeeded Jeffrey Zients as crisis manager for repairs to HealthCare.gov, is leaving the agency at the end of June.

"Under this new structure, we bring additional operational and technological fire power and have a clear single point of contact in the Marketplace CEO to streamline decision-making," Burwell said in a statement.

The new alignment tracks closely with recommendations made by Ezekiel Emanuel, a former health policy advisor to President Barack Obama during the development of the legislation, in a report published by the Center for American Progress.

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