Kevin Counihan, who headed Connecticut's successful state-based Obamacare exchange, has tough challenges ahead as the first CEO of HealthCare.gov, the federal insurance exchange that serves 36 states.
HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell's August appointment of Counihan, 59, to the CMS post was a major step by the Obama administration to reorganize the agency's leadership of the federal exchange.
Under Counihan's leadership in Connecticut, that state's uninsured rate dropped by nearly half this year. The state's marketplace, Access Health CT, was so successful that it launched efforts to sell its technology and expertise to other states with state-run exchanges. Maryland is planning to implement Connecticut's exchange technology.