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HBEX Board Meets Again

On Wednesday, the board of directors of the California Health Benefit Exchange (now commonly being abbreviated as “HBEX“) met publicly for the second time in as many months. With a little less fan-fare than the first board meeting on April 20th, and little more down-to-business demeanor, the Board — still with 4 of 5 members seated — began to identify and tackle some of the most important issues and hear analyses of various components of the HBEX and larger health care market.

Here’s a quick rundown from the meeting…

Staff Report

Pat Powers, interim administrative director, shared her background, which includes running the PBGH when it acquired PacAdvantage/HIPC, and non-profit work on healthcare quality. Ms. Powers will start full-time next week but has been part-time with ad hoc staff which includes agency employees and consultants. She will run process of recruiting the first HBEX Executive Director (ED), help make near-term decisions for establishment grant, identify transformational opportunities for the HBEX (e.g. vision for consumer experience), and establish an informational policy foundation for implementation of Board authorities.

The board expects a permanent ED to be hired by August 1st. According to board member Belshe, the single most important decision for the board is who is hired as the first ED. There was so discussion of the salary for the new ED (proposed to be $240,000/year) and whether that might be enough to attract the best candidates. That discussion will be continued.

Establishment Grant Update

At the first HBEX board meeting, the board voted unanimously to pursue a “Level 2” Establishment Grant (EG), the longer and far more robust of the two options. At this meeting, the board considered whether a “Level 1” EG right now might better. Ms. Powers shared her experience in Denver and the fact that Level 1 Grants have ranged from $5-$25 million for much smaller states. It may make more sense to submit a Level 1 grant in June so that the state does not have to develop a 4-year budget. Reconsideration of level of EG will officially happen at next meeting.


There were four presentations at the board meeting. Marian Mulkey gave an overview of on the Individual & Small Group Markets. Dr. Gerald Kominski predicted ACA impact on California’s healthcare system and the approximate potential size of the HBEX. Rick Curtis analyzed the SHOP component of the HBEX and contrasted it from the failed experience of HIPC/PacAdvantage. Finally, there was a presentation on and a discussion of the Basic Health Plan Option here in California.

Background on these presentations, HBEX meeting agendas, and all other materials from both meetings are available on the HBEX Board Meeting website.