The Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday that Kevin Counihan, the head of Connecticut’s state-run exchange will join the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as CEO of the Marketplace, also known as the federal government’s health care exchange.

In this new position, which will begin in the coming weeks, Counihan will be responsible and accountable for leading the federal Marketplace, managing relationships with state marketplaces, and running the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, which regulates health insurance at the federal level, CMS said. He will report to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner.

The agency says the creation of this role is due in part from lessons learned from the first open enrollment period to have a single point of contact when decisions need to be made.

Also See: Listen to Counihan talking about what he expects in 2015 in Connecticut with HDM sister site, Employee Benefit Adviser.

Counihan was appointed head of AccessHealthCT in July 2012 by Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. He was previously president of Choice Administrators in California and before that chief marketing officer for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Health Insurance Connector Authority.

Counihan holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and an MBA in finance and marketing from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

“When I arrived at the Department, I committed to retain, develop and recruit the best talent available, and that’s what we are doing,” says HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell.  "[Counihan] brings additional operational and technological expertise to the position and will be a clear, single point of contact for streamlined decision-making.”

Malloy tweeted to Counihan, wishing him success in his new role. “Congrats to AccessHealthCT CEO Kevin Counihan on being chosen to lead the federal Marketplace; he led #CT to become nation's best exchange,” the governor wrote.

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