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Hawaii Health Connector executive director to resign

By Kristen Consillio

LAST UPDATED: 10:47 a.m. HST, Nov 22, 2013

Hawaii Health Connector executive director Coral Andrews is resigning from the state's problem-plagued health insurance exchange effective Dec. 6.

Andrews said in a conference call with reporters this morning that she was not forced to resign. "This is my choice," she said, adding that she recommended to the exchange's board that it was time for a leadership transition.

"The Hawaii Health Connector has been one of the most challenging, yet fulfilling, roles that I've had in all my years in health care, particularly here in Hawaii in the last 25 years," said Andrews who has been executive director since December 2011. "Hawaii Health Connector has been my baby and has required constant nurturing and attention. The connector has reached a point where I now need to let go and let someone else take charge."

The Connector's board of directors named Tom Matsuda, the state's Affordable Care Act implementation manager, interim executive director effective Dec. 9 and has launched a search for Andrews' replacement. She was paid $175,000 a year as executive director.

Her resignation comes at a critical juncture as the nation prepares for major provisions of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act to take effect, the most controversial of which is a mandate that most Americans get health coverage or face tax penalties in 2014. Consumers must enroll in health plans by Dec. 15 for coverage that begins on Jan. 1. 

The Connector is Hawaii's state-based health insurance exchange designed to match low-income residents with subsidized health plans.

The Connector website, where consumers could compare plans and enroll for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, was supposed to launch on Oct. 1 but did not go live until Oct. 15 due to software problems. Hawaii was the last state in the nation to go live with health plans on the exchange.

In its first month of operation, the Connector had enrolled only 257 individuals in Obamacare health plans. Andrews has said that she expected to enroll as many as 300,000, including an estimated 100,000 uninsured, over the next few years.

The 1,754 applications the Connector received in October was the fifth lowest number in the nation.

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