Rocky King Named Permanent Director of Oregon's Health Insurnace Exchange

No one else could do the job like him, board members agree
The Lund Report

October 6, 2011--The board of directors of Oregon's Health Insurance Exchange took its first important action this morning: appointing a permanent executive director. And it's not surprising who they chose.

Howard "Rocky" King, who's been working as the exchange's interim director since being appointed by Governor John Kitzhaber in June, was confirmed as the permanent director following a unanimous vote.

It was critical for the board to make that decision because King could have only worked as interim director for 120 days -- until November 1 -- and the board isn't scheduled to hold another meeting before then. 

Leading up to the vote was some "due diligence" work done by Gretchen Peterson, a board member and vice president of human resources at Portland's Hanna Anderson. 

Peterson contacted numerous people in Governor John Kitzhaber's office, as well as stakeholder groups, consumer advocates and former employees of King's. All of the feedback was "positive," she said, especially about King's ability to implement new programs with proven results.

"Rocky also received very strong recommendations through his leadership and management style," Peterson said. "No one could provide an alternative candiate who felt they'd be equal to Mr. King's knowledge, capability and skills."

"He's a great choice," added Dr. Bruce Goldberg, director of the Oregon Health Authority.

King drew laughter from the board when asked if wanted to say anything about his appointment. Although he has a tendency to be humorously verbose, this morning he had nothing to say.

Peterson and Liz Baxter, the board's chair, will now negotiate with King to hammer out his contract, compensation and benefits.

King has extensive experience working in government and insurance. Previously, he was director of healthcare purchasing at the Oregon Health Authority, administrator of the Office of Private Health Partnerships (OPHP), and the Oregon Medical Insurance Pool (OMIP), and helped create the Senior Health Insurance Benefit Assistance Program (SHIBA). 

The Health Insurance Exchange was created by Senate Bill 99 passed by the Legislature earlier this year.

The exchange, which is scheduled to begin offering coverage in January 2014, will provide a one-stop shopping place for uninsured individuals and small businesses to find an affordable health insurance plan that meets their needs.

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This guy sounds like the real deal. Glad to see Oregon making good decisions when it comes to the leadership in Healthcare Reform.

Nice to see Rocky King in this important role. Now that I am in California and am closely watching the California Health Exchange Board (who recently hired Peter Lee as Director) but still with a number of participants in Oregon and Washington it is clear that the challenges are significant but that there are opportunities to address longstanding issues as well. Patrick Pine, Robert F. Kennedy Farmworkers Medical Plan