February 15, 2018

Access Health CEO Wadleigh to depart

PHOTO | Contributed
PHOTO | Contributed
Access Health CT CEO James Wadleigh will leave the exchange in April 2018.

Jim Wadleigh, who has led the state's Access Health CT insurance exchange for the past three years, will leave his job in April, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman announced Thursday.

Wadleigh oversaw three open enrollment periods at the Obamacare exchange, and was also interim CEO during the 2014-2015 enrollment period. The most recent enrollment resulted in a 2.3 percent uptick in signups, despite a shorter window and other challenges.

In an interview Thursday, Wadleigh said his departure is his decision, and that he plans to search for new employment opportunities this spring.

"It's a very public and visible role," Wadleigh said. "There's a lot going on in it."

He thinks he will likely end up back in the private sector, and possibly in an insurance-related role. Wadleigh previously worked for Cigna for more than a decade. He became Access Health's chief information officer in 2012 and CEO in Feb. 2015, following several months as interim CEO.

During his leadership tenure, uncertainty about the exchange's future was common. One insurer went out of business, while others threatened to back out amid rate disputes.

Pressure on the future of the Affordable Care Act has only increased after the election of President Donald Trump, with Congress in December gutting the federal individual mandate to purchase insurance.

Wadleigh feels confident Access Health is in a good position, though Congress could always change that.

"I think the organization is as strong today as it has ever been, if not stronger," he said. "It has a long term viability."

Wadleigh's predecessor Kevin Counihan, who was Access Health's first CEO, was hired by the Obama administration to oversee the federal Obamacare exchange. Counihan was hired by health insurer Centene last year.

"Despite the healthcare policy instability in Washington, Connecticut's exchange enrollment went up," Wyman said in a statement Thursday. "That speaks to Jim's focus on outreach and ensuring Connecticut residents understood the benefits of having health insurance — and the law around the ACA."

Access Health said its human resources committee plans to meet to discuss a search process to find Wadleigh's replacement.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include comment from Wadleigh.

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