Blake Fulenwider, who has helped lead a state committee’s effort to create an insurance exchange, has been named deputy commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Health.
Fulenwider has been health policy adviser to Gov. Nathan Deal. He will begin his DCH job on Nov. 1.
The appointment was first reported by Tom Crawford in the Georgia Report. Crawford noted that Fulenwider was a legislative assistant to Deal when the latter was a U.S. congressman. Fulenwider was also a member of Deal’s gubernatorial transition team.
The insurance exchange study committee, appointed by Deal, will meet this Thursday. The panel is expected to move forward on recommending a quasi-governmental entity for the state’s health exchanges, resembling the structure for the Georgia Lottery Corp.
The health reform law says that by 2014, each state must offer a health insurance exchange – an online marketplace where people can compare and buy coverage, and insurers can compete on quality and price.
If a state fails to create its own exchange, the federal government will run one there.
Deal opposes the reform law, but decided to create an exchange panel to consider a Georgia-oriented solution to make health insurance more affordable.
The state’s exchange panel is also expected to recommend separate exchanges for individuals and for small businesses, and to weigh a backup plan to help businesses and individuals afford insurance in the event the health reform law is overturned in the courts.
The exchange panel is scheduled to produce a final report in December, prior to the start of the 2012 Georgia General Assembly.
Fulenwider will be joining a state agency that oversees the health care of more than 2 million Georgians, through the Medicaid program for poor and disabled residents; PeachCare for uninsured children; and the State Health Benefit Plan, which covers state employees, teachers, school personnel and retirees, along with their dependents.