Manatt Adds Former Federal HHS Director to National Healthcare Practice

Joel Ario brings state and federal insurance regulation, business strategy and health policy experience to fast-growing team.

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, announced that Joel Ario has joined the firm and will begin work on Jan. 2, 2012, in its Washington, D.C., office as a managing director with Manatt Health Solutions (MHS), the firm’s interdisciplinary policy and business advisory division. Ario comes to MHS from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), where he served as director of the Office of Health Insurance Exchanges.

Ario has played a critical leadership role in the insurance sector at the state and federal levels for more than a decade. At HHS, Ario was the Administration’s point person in leading health insurance exchange initiatives under the Affordable Care Act, which gives each state the right to establish an exchange by 2014. Working with stakeholders, Ario led development of the regulatory framework for exchanges, including consumer standards, insurer accountability, transparency, state certification, and state and federal partnership opportunities.

“Joel’s work at the federal level crafting regulatory frameworks integral to health insurance exchange development, and his experience overseeing insurance regulation in two states, is a perfect complement to Manatt’s strategic engagements with states, insurers and provider organizations grappling with these complex issues,” said William Bernstein, chair of Manatt’s Healthcare Division. “He has an extraordinary background helping to shape the future of healthcare. We are thrilled to add Joel to our nationally-recognized team.”

Before joining HHS, Ario served as Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner, where he oversaw regulation of the state’s $85 billion insurance industry. Ario also served as the Oregon Insurance Administrator, served on the executive committee of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) from 2001-2010, and was elected three times to serve as an NAIC officer.

“Manatt is well-known by government and industry leaders for having an excellent and multi-faceted healthcare practice at the forefront of healthcare reform,” Ario said. “As the states work to implement healthcare reform and establish exchanges, a comprehensive approach that takes into account the interests of the many stakeholders involved is critical to success. In my new role at Manatt, I look forward to helping states achieve their health insurance exchange goals within flexible federal standards.”

Ario is the latest of several strategic additions to Manatt’s dynamic healthcare practice, including Robert Hussar, the former first deputy for the New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General, in Albany; Deborah Bachrach, former New York State Medicaid director and deputy commissioner of health, in New York; and Jonah Frohlich, former deputy secretary of health information technology at the California Health and Human Services Agency, in San Francisco.

Ario earned a J.D. from Harvard Law School; an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School; and a B.A. from St. Olaf College.

About Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP

Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, is one of the nation's leading law firms, with offices strategically located in California (Los Angeles, Orange County, Palo Alto, San Francisco and Sacramento), New York (New York City and Albany) and Washington, D.C. The firm represents a sophisticated client base – including Fortune 500, middle-market, and emerging companies – across a range of practice areas and industry sectors. For more information, visit

About Manatt Health Solutions

Manatt Health Solutions is a division of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP. Its interdisciplinary team provides strategic business advice, policy analysis, project implementation, and coalition-building and advocacy services to clients in the areas of health information technology, health insurance exchanges and other healthcare access and coverage initiatives, including development of new healthcare delivery system models. MHS professionals also provide counsel on financing, reimbursement, restructurings, and mergers and acquisitions to clients in the healthcare sector. For more information, visit


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