Director of Hawaii's health exchange resigns


HONOLULU — The director of Hawaii’s health insurance marketplace under President Barack Obama’s federal health care overhaul has resigned after delays in getting the exchange running and low signups in the first month.

Executive Director Coral Andrews said Friday that she was not asked to resign and decided to leave the Hawaii Health Connector on her own.

Andrews told reporters on a conference call that directing the exchange has been one of the most challenging yet fulfilling roles in her career.

“The Hawaii Health Connector has been my baby. It has required constant nurturing and attention,” Andrews said. “Although in many ways it is still growing and changing, the connector has reached a point where I now need to let go and let someone else take charge.”

Andrews is expected to work until Dec. 6.

She will be replaced on an interim basis by Tom Matsuda, the implementation manager for the overhaul in Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s administration.

The exchange had a two-week delay in starting open enrollment, then signed up only 257 people in its first month of allowing people to buy coverage.

The delay led to complaints from consumers, including some turning directly to health insurance companies to buy plans. Those who bought plans directly from insurance companies are unable to qualify for tax credits and other rebates.

Sherry Menor-McNamara, chief operating officer of the exchange, said a search for a permanent director has started — a process she said Andrews would help with.

“Despite the inherent challenges of building a very complex system, Coral always reminded us why we were doing this,” Menor-McNamara said. “She was a tireless advocate determined to give the uninsured in Hawaii access to health care that was promised under the Affordable Care Act.”