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By Reuters
Saturday, May 17, 2014, 7:03 p.m.
 

WASHINGTON— A group of health care experts close to the White House is urging the Obama administration to appoint a new chief executive officer to oversee Obamacare's online health insurance exchanges and safeguard the next open enrollment period that begins in six months.

The recommendation, in a report due to be released by the Washington-based Center for American Progress think tank, calls for a major shakeup within the Department of Health and Human Services, which presided over last year's disastrous rollout of the federal market portal, HealthCare.gov.

The idea would be to take the exchanges out of the current bureaucracy and put them in the hands of a CEO with private-sector experience who could run them as true e-commerce sites. The CEO would answer only to President Obama and his intended health secretary, Sylvia Mathews Burwell.

The White House said in a statement it had not reviewed the recommendation, but was open to considering “all ideas” that might improve the law's implementation after the botched October rollout and subsequent recovery.

The report's co-authors, including former White House health care adviser Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, say the change should be made soon to address challenges that include the completion of automated “back end” systems needed to carry out vital functions with insurers, state Medicaid agencies and other entities.

“An absolutely essential element of achieving these goals is having the exchange run by a CEO who is both given the resources and made accountable for the exchange's performance,” Emanuel, who teaches at the University of Pennsylvania, said.

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