Top HHS officials to take over exchanges office

The Health and Human Services Department will split up the workload of overseeing insurance exchanges after its top exchanges official leaves the department this month.

The head of HHS' exchanges office, Joel Ario, is leaving his post next month. Steve Larsen, who runs the health reform office that includes exchanges planning and many other functions, said in an e-mail to agency employees that he and another HHS official will take over planning for the exchanges — a cornerstone of the new health law.

Larsen will share the task with Tim Hill, a deputy director of the health reform office who has also held several other positions within HHS.

"Tim’s talent and experience here at CMS will ensure a smooth transition and will compliment my background working in state government for over a decade,  particularly my time as a state insurance commissioner," Larsen said in the e-mail.

The department released its first round of exchanges regulations earlier this summer, and states and stakeholders are clamoring for more information abut the new insurance marketplaces.

Larsen's e-mail says he and Hill will hire a state liaison. HHS wants each state to run its own exchange, rather than rely on a federally administered fallback.