WASHINGTON BUREAU – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has picked a former state insurance commissioner, an academic and a risk pool expert to help run a new Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight.

Steve Larsen, a former Maryland insurance commissioner, will head the oversight division at the new HHS agency.

Karen Pollitz, a former Georgetown University professor, will run the consumer support division at the office, and Richard Popper, who has led Maryland’s high-risk pool since 2002, will lead the insurance program division.

Popper will oversee state and federal efforts to create high-risk pools for people who cannot find affordable health insurance because they have medical conditions.

Earlier this year, HHS officials said Jay Angoff, a former Missouri insurance commissioner, would be the director of the oversight office.

HHS is creating the office to implement provisions of the Affordable Care Act – the legislative package that includes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act. The new office will be in charge of performing rate reviews and giving states grants they can use to set up rate review programs.

This year, the office is supposed to help to come up with a definition of “unreasonable” premium increase, develop insurance plans for people with preexisting conditions, and oversee insurer compliance with consumer protection rules, HHS officials say.