WASHINGTON BUREAU — Joel Ario will direct the unit that is developing the new federal health insurance exchange system.
Ario has been the Pennsylvania insurance commissioner since June 2007; before that, he served as the Oregon insurance commissioner from 2000 to 2007.
The Affordable Care Act, the legislative package that includes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), calls for the Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (OCIIO), a new arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to have the exchange system up and running in 2014.
The system is supposed to help individuals and small businesses use federal subsidies to buy health insurance packages that meet minimum value and quality standards.
Ario has been serving on the Executive Committee at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), Kansas City, Mo. He is chairman of the NAIC’s Climate Change Task Force and vice chairman of the NAIC’s Health Insurance Committee.
Ario was NAIC secretary-treasurer in 2003-2004 and the vice president in 2004-2005.
Ario will be succeeded as Pennsylvania commissioner by Robert Pratter, who is now executive deputy general counsel for litigation with the Pennsylvania Insurance Department’s Office of General Counsel.
Pratter spent more than 25 years as a partner at Duane Morris L.L.P., Philadelphia, a law firm. He was general counsel of the PMA Capital Corp., Blue Bell, Pa., from 1999 to 2008.
HHS officials in Washington did not respond to requests for comment.
A representative for Ario says he will be leaving at the end of the month but has not set an exact date.