In the news

The Denver Business Journal
Ed Sealover

As the Colorado Health Benefits Exchange (CHBE) Board convened its first meeting Monday, two consumer groups called for one of its businessmen members to step down.

The groups said the member’s appointment conflicts with both the general purpose of the board and a federal direction on board makeup.

Eric Grossman — vice president of Greenwood Village health information technology company TriZetto Group Inc.bizWatch and the man at the middle of the storm — declined to resign early Monday afternoon, saying that he believes he brings experiences to the board that can help it build the exchange’s infrastructure. TriZetto Group Inc. Latest from The Business Journals Consumer groups want Grossman off health exchange boardTriZetto closes on Tela Sourcing buyTriZetto to acquire Gateway EDI Follow this company

And he received support from Gov. John Hickenlooper’s administration in his decision.

Grossman received one of the five appointments that Hickenlooper, a Democrat, made to the nine-member board, representing health care finance, information technology and someone who has started a small business. Grossman also is a Democrat.

TriZetto is a 2,000-employee company that designs technology to help hospitals and physicians adjudicate claims with health clients. It works with insurers as well in that process.

TriZetto recently moved its headquarters to Colorado from Newport Beach, Calif.

The Colorado Public Interest Research Group (CoPIRG) discovered an article in the Oct. 15 issue of Managed Care magazine in which Grossman wrote about the good, bad and ugly of health care exchanges, which are designed as Internet marketplaces for individuals and small businesses to buy health insurance.

Under the “bad” section, he wrote that such exchanges, which are a mandate of the federal health care reform act, would create a competitive marketplace that would force health insurance companies to cut costs and increase efficiencies.

The CHBE is responsible for drawing up the operational framework of the exchange.

“It’s so clearly the intent of this body to create a competitive marketplace, and for him to characterize that as bad, it goes against the purpose of this body,” CoPIRG director Danny KatzEric Grossman to resign based on the comments I read in the publication.” said. “I felt I had to call on

Dede de Percin, executive director of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, also noted that new rules on exchanges released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Monday require that a majority of each board’s members represent consumers and small businesses.

De Percin argued that with three insurance industry executives on the board, as well as Grossman and Arnold Salazer, the director of a San Luis Valley behavioral health organization that acts like a managed care organization, the insurance industry has a majority of the board makeup.

“We feel really strongly that the board shouldn’t continue with a 5-to-4 margin as it is for the industry,” de Percin said outside the meeting at the Colorado Health Institute in Denver. “I think the person who needs to reconsider is Eric Grossman.”

But Grossman said he stands firm that he can add a lot to the board without tilting it, as critics say, toward the insurance industry.

He said that his comments in Managed Care were taken out of context and that the point of the article was to get insurance companies involved in exchanges while explaining to them the upsides and downsides of doing so.

He noted, too, that because his company supplies technology to health care providers representing over half of all Americans, he can aid the board in the technical area of putting together a successful exchange that can be accessed by all Coloradans.

And he said that his company recused itself from bidding on any state contracts, including those associated with the exchange, in order for him to be on the board.

Lastly, Grossman noted that he once owned a small online health insurance broker representing consumers in the Atlanta area, emphasizing his ability to help both consumers and small businesses navigate the exchange.

“It’s all that varied experience I can help contribute,” Grossman said. “I can’t comment on how the state decided to compose the board. But we do think all aspects should be represented, and we see information technology as a key part of the board.”

Lorez Meinhold, Hickenlooper’s deputy policy director who worked on the team that helped to review and recommend applicants for the board, said no one at the state has plans now to replace any member of the newly seated board.

She noted that board members on Monday all made a commitment to creating an exchange that will increase affordability of, access to and quality of health care while increasing competition in the market.

“All of our exchange board members are committed to the success of the exchange,” Meinhold said. “All of them, including Eric, bring strong leadership, entrepreneurship, a variety of viewpoints and a commitment to success.”

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