BOSTON (AP) — The head of the Massachusetts health connector announced plans Tuesday to step down from the post after a tumultuous year in which the state’s health insurance exchange failed and was later rebuilt.
The departure of Jean Yang was anticipated as a new Republican governor, Charlie Baker, prepares to take office.
Yang, who had served as executive director since January 2013, told reporters she was leaving the connectorin a “solid place,” with its new systems working properly. She said she did not have any firm career plans for after her departure on Jan. 16, one day after the next meeting of the connector’s board of directors.
The breakdown of the connector’s website marred the transition from the state’s first-in-the-nation universalhealth insurance law to the requirements of the federal Affordable Care Act, and forced hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts residents into temporary Medicaid coverage.
Massachusetts cut ties with CGI Group, the lead contractor for the website, eventually paying the company $52 million out of an original $89 million contract. The failed site was then rebuilt using software that had powered insurance marketplaces in other states.
“We are coming back stronger than ever,” said Yang. “I am very hopeful that health reform is going to be successful in this state as it always has been.”
Gov. Deval Patrick, in a statement, said he appreciated the work Yang did under challenging circumstances.
“Under Jean’s leadership, more people are covered, more insurers are doing business in Massachusetts, and we have an integrated eligibility system that is the foundation for faster, easier access to health insurance,” Patrick said.
Maydad Cohen, a special assistant to the governor who oversaw the relaunch of the website on Nov. 15, will serve as interim executive director of the connector until the incoming Baker administration names a permanent successor, likely around mid-February.
Connector officials said nearly 50,000 people had successfully signed up for insurance that started Jan. 1, and Cohen has said the focus was now on moving people whose temporary coverage expires in January into permanent plans.