Washington Health Benefit Exchange Names Richard K. Onizuka as CEO

The Washington State Health Benefit Exchange has named the Washington Health Care Authority’s (HCA) previous assistant director for health policy, Richard K. Onizuka, PH.D., as their new CEO, according to a news release from the HCA.  The Exchange must be in place by January 1, 2014, and has received $23 million in federal grants for the implementation process including things like public education and the development of IT systems.

Onizuka will be responsible for overseeing all actions of implementation by working with the Exchange Board and its staff.

“Richard brings passion and a unique combination of health care policy expertise and health information technology experience, which is invaluable to the Exchange,” said Margaret Stanley, chair of the board of directors. “We have a lot to accomplish in the next 17 months before the Exchange opens for business, and Richard’s leadership and strategic vision will help ensure a successful launch.”

The Exchange is a part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and, according to the news release from the HCA, is “a program being developed as a new marketplace for individuals and small businesses in Washington to purchase private health insurance coverage and gain access to tax credits, reduced cost sharing, and public programs such as Medicaid.”

The HCA provided this statement from Onizuku regarding his recent appointment.

“I am honored to help build and lead an organization that will make it easier for individuals, families, and small businesses to find, compare, and enroll in a health insurance plan that will meet their needs,” said Richard K. Onizuka, Ph.D. “The Exchange will not only connect hundreds of thousands of Washington residents to health coverage, but it will also make the experience of choosing a plan a lot less complicated and stressful.”