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December 22, 2014

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Nevada’s health care exchange names new executive director

The Nevada health care exchange selected Bruce Gilbert as its executive director at a board meeting today.

Gilbert beat out 50 applicants to lead the Silver State Exchange. He is a principal of Texas-based HIX Partners and former benefits administrator for the state of Ohio.

The decision to hire Gilbert came almost a month later than scheduled due to timing conflicts with the candidates and board members.

Gilbert became the frontrunner for the position after David Haws withdrew his name from the candidate list. Haws is the division administrator of the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

Gilbert’s arrival to the exchange follows the February departure of the exchange’s first director, John Hager. He resigned after the exchange faced significant challenges in the first months of its rollout caused by defective software built by the state’s contractor, Xerox.

Gilbert will replace the interim executive director Steve Fisher.

Gilbert comes to the exchange as it struggles to unwind itself from Xerox's software and tie into the federal exchange for the next enrollment period that opens this fall.

Gilbert will have to work quickly to launch a new online system by Nov. 15. The public eye is on the exchange and it’s going to stay on the exchange, he said.

“We need to own this,” he said.

The board's decision on a new executive director was not a simple one. The exchange faces a massive IT project to reverse the problems of the initial rollout. The board fired Xerox in May.

In June, board members said their ideal candidate would have had a mixed Gilbert's and Haws' skills. Gilbert's experience is in personnel management. Haws is an IT expert.

Gilbert described himself as a dogged leader who is candid and sometimes blunt. He didn’t promise success.

“The only thing I know how to do is identify issues and understand process and work to get my arms around things,” he said.

Gilbert told the board the exchange’s biggest problem isn’t the flawed technology. “Your issue is execution,” he said. “Not all the Is are being dotted and not all the Ts are being crossed.”

Board members and exchange staff described his personality as affable and warm. “He can also kick you in the butt when you need it,” said Shawna DeRousse, the exchange’s chief operating officer.

Board member Lynn Etkins noted Gilbert’s eagerness to tackle the exchange’s problems.

“It’s going to be a challenging year ahead and having someone look forward to that is going to make all the difference in the world,” she said.

During the interview process, Gilbert disclosed to the board that he had been sued by American Express Centurion Bank in Texas for $14,896 that had not been repaid on a line of credit. The board determined the lawsuit would not impact his work with the exchange.

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