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Cohen Named Director of CCIIO

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Gary Cohen has been named to replace Steve Larsen as the director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO), at the Department of Health and Human Services.

CCIIO is the agency within HHS that is playing the key role in implementing the private health insurance components of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

See also: PPACA: A History

Cohen, age 58, returns to head CCIIO from his recent job as chief counsel to the California Health Benefit Exchange Board.

As the chief legal advisor, Gary provided policy guidance and legal counsel on matters pertaining to the Exchange, its programs and operations.

Before that, he served as director of the oversight group at CCIIO. He also formerly served as chief of staff for Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., and a former California insurance commissioner.

He also served as a partner at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP.

His appointment was announced by Marilyn Tavenner, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a unit of HHS.

Larsen resigned June 15 to join Optum, a unit of UnitedHealthcare, which is based in Eden Prairie, Minn.

Mike Hash, director of the Office of Health Reform, has served as interim director of CCIIO since Larsen left in early July.

To help Cohen implement the law, Tavenner named Jim Kerr to temporarily join CCIIO as the deputy director for operations as HHS gears up to implement the new law in the run-up to the launch of the final step, healthcare exchanges, in Jan. 2014.

Kerr currently serves as the Consortia Administrator for Medicare Health Plan Operations.

Nancy O’Connor, regional CMS administrator in Philadelphia, will take on Kerr’s duties as deputy Consortium Administrator for Medicare Health Plan Operations while Jim is temporarily detailed to CCIIO.