100 People to Watch This Fall : Page 59 of 102

Gary Cohen Director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) at the Health and Human Services Department

If any one person could be the face of Obama-Care implementation, it would be Cohen.

The office he oversees is charged with implementing almost all of the healthcare law’s major provisions, including the new insurance exchanges that need to integrate seamlessly with a host of other federal agencies. 

Cohen and his staff are running tests on the massive data hub that will power the insurance exchanges when they launch Oct. 1. The goal is to have a workable interface up and running without major glitches that would keep people out of the insurance market (and embolden Republican critics of the law).

There’s also a major customer service component. Cohen’s office is in charge of working with external call centers to help people who don’t want to enroll online, as well as selecting “navigators” to help people make sense of their new coverage options.

Cohen is also the administration’s point man on a host of other implementation activities, including negotiating with insurers and certifying that they meet the standards to sell their products through the exchanges. The CCIIO also reviews double-digit premium increases across the country to make sure they’re reasonable and enforces new rules that require insurers to spend at least 80 percent of their premiums on medical care. 

All eyes are on Cohen as Washington waits to see whether HHS can pull off a logistical feat as big and complex as the exchanges on time and under a tight budget.