Access Health CT CEO Kevin Counihan Testifies Before the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee

Apr 11, 2013, 16:14 ET from Access Health CT

HARTFORD, Conn., April 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Kevin Counihan, CEO of Access Health CT, testified today in Washington, D.C. in front of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, led by Chairman Tom Harkin and Ranking Minority Member Lamar Alexander.  Counihan, an advocate for more affordable health insurance for all, has worked in health insurance exchanges for the past seven years, as a senior leader of the Massachusetts Health Insurance Connector, and as president of a private health insurance exchange in California.

"The hallmark of health reform has been the concept of shared responsibility, the sense of shared ownership of a common value that our nation benefits from more citizens realizing the peace of mind of health insurance coverage," stated Counihan to the Senate Committee. "Increasingly, shared responsibility must be accompanied by shared patience.  We must have the patience to recognize the implementation of the ACA will take time to be fully realized, that premium rate adjustments will stabilize, that enrollment and health plan choices will be enhanced, and that outreach and communication activities will continue to be more effective."

Counihan defined Access Health CT's objectives: create a user-friendly shopping and enrollment experience; reduce the number of uninsured; reduce racial and ethnic disparities; promote innovation and competition, and facilitate discussion to create more affordable health insurance coverage.

Access Health CT is recognized as one of the leading state marketplaces.  They are in the midst of Wave 1 testing with the Federal Data Services Hub, have completed their strategy to partner with leading private sector firms for their call center and Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), and are in the process of implementing their broker, Navigator and In-Person-Assistor training and oversight programs.

The CEO went on to explain that there are a number of protections in the ACA which help to ameliorate the impact costs of the many meaningful insurance reforms being instituted.  These include a Risk Adjustment Program which transfers payments from issuers with lower-risk enrollment to those issuers with higher-risk enrollees to adjust for risk selection; a Risk Corridor Program which limits issuer underwriter gains and losses, and a Reinsurance Program which reimburses issuers for higher than expected utilization.

"As a result, much of the uncertainty over the unknown morbidity of the uninsured and the potential migration of certain employee segments from employer sponsored insurance to the individual market will be dampened," said Counihan. "It is critical that issuers, consumers, small businesses, brokers, policy makers, and other stakeholders understand the roles these programs play to mitigate excessive rate increases."

In concluding, Counihan said, "At Access Health CT, we believe health insurance is a right of citizenship and not just a privilege of employment. The ACA represents the best opportunity we have at present to expand access to health insurance since the introduction of Medicare in 1965. We are proud to be a leading state in the implementation of the ACA and to providing more affordable health insurance to our residents."

About Access Health CT

Access Health CT (also known as the Exchange) was created by the Connecticut Legislature in 2011 and is a quasi-public agency established to satisfy requirements of the federal Affordable Care Act.  Its mission is to increase the number of insured residents in Connecticut, promote health, lower costs and eliminate health disparities. Its vision is to provide a simple online shopping and enrollment experience for state residents and small businesses, starting with open enrollment in October 2013.

Access Health CT will ensure that participating health plans meet certain standards, and will facilitate competition and choice by rating the quality of each plan. Individuals and families buying coverage through the Exchange may qualify for tax credits on premiums. The Exchange will also coordinate eligibility and enrollment with state Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Programs. More information is available at

SOURCE Access Health CT