official quits amid push to hire reform CEO

Michelle Snyder, the "career bureaucrat" who oversaw construction of, resigned last week as chief operating officer at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, according to Reuters. Snyder's resignation announcement coincided with news of pressure on the White House to pick a chief executive to oversee the federal health insurance marketplace.

At a congressional hearing about the knotty launch, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius named Snyder as the official who decided the federal government would act as system integrator for the website, Reuters noted.

CMS reorganized after the website debacle, Reuters reported, but--with the exception of technical guru Tony Trenkle--the shake-up did not result in top-level departures despite clamors for Sebelius' head.

Nevertheless, the management reins of reform passed to new hands, as FierceHealthPayer reported, when the administration tapped crisis manager Jeffrey Zients to make the website operational and former Microsoft executive Kurt DelBene to oversee the site through the first half of 2014.

Now administration allies and GOP members advocate the appointment of a marketplace executive with clear rulemaking authority who will collaborate with payers and regulators, supervise enrollment, and monitor technology, Reuters noted.

While CMS is officially responsible for the federal marketplace, there's no individual running the whole operation. Some say a CEO in that role could restore faith in healthcare reform.

Speculation on possible CEO candidates from the private sector is growing, though a White House official told Reuters a CEO appointment isn't being considered. Experts question the idea's dismissal. "The administration is confronted by a series of problems they cannot solve on their own. They do not possess internally the competencies or the exposure or the information," former HHS Scretary Mike Leavitt told Reuters, saying a CEO appointment is "the right thing to do, it's just two years late."   

For more:
- read the Reuters articles on Snyder's resignation and demands for a CEO