Access Health CT CEO Jim Wadleigh is stepping down from the organization, effective in April, following six years with the group.
“It was time,” Wadleigh told the Business Journal. Noting that his three-year contract expires in June, he said that he hoped to use the late spring to “take some time off, reconnect with my family, and not have to think about the Affordable Care Act for a while.”
He said he expected to begin his job search in early summer. Wadleigh said his “gut tells me” that his next position will be within the health care field, probably in the private sector.
Wadleigh led the state’s health care exchange for more than three years and previously was the organization’s chief information officer. Under his leadership, AHCT strengthened outreach initiatives, resulting in a steadily increasing enrollment. Connecticut had its highest enrollment this cycle and currently has 108,000 residents with health insurance coverage through AHCT.
Noting that he served as the organization’s interim CEO before being named its chief executive in February 2015, Wadleigh said he hoped to be able to suggest one or two internal candidates for the interim position, which would allow them to go through an open enrollment period to prove their mettle. He will also assist the board throughout the transition period with other matters, he said.
Given the suddenness of the announcement, Wadleigh insisted that there were “No nefarious things going on,” and that he’d previously discussed with AHCT board members the possibility of his moving on in past years upon completion of the open enrollment period.
“Our health care exchange has been held up as a national model, and that’s because we’ve had strong leaders at the helm and a great team in place,” said Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, who is also chair of AHCT’s board. “Jim has been a tireless advocate for an exchange that used every opportunity to educate and be available to consumers, to help them through the selection and enrollment process, and to ensure enrollees understand how to use their new insurance.
“Despite the health care policy instability in Washington, Connecticut’s exchange enrollment went up,” she said. “That speaks to Jim’s focus on outreach and ensuring Connecticut residents understood the benefits of having health insurance — and the law around the ACA.”
Gov. Dannel Malloy said that Wadleigh and Wyman both deserve “a tremendous amount of credit for ensuring that Access Health CT remains a national leader. With President Trump and Republicans in Washington pulling no punches in their attacks on the Affordable Care Act — from shortening the enrollment period to eliminating cost-sharing reduction payments — the work of Access Health CT has been both more difficult and more important than ever in the past year. I commend Jim for his efforts on behalf of Connecticut residents.”
Wadleigh called himself “extremely lucky to be part of a team that has been leading the nation since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act six years ago. During this time, I’ve seen how our efforts have improved the lives of so many Connecticut residents.
“This was a difficult decision,” he said, “but I know the Access Health CT team will continue to provide the value to the many individuals and families that need our services.”
The AHCT Human Resources Committee will meet soon to discuss next steps in the search process for a candidate to succeed Wadleigh.