Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015 | 5:45 p.m.
A top official from the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange resigned as its chief operating officer.
Shawna DeRousse, the state official who led the exchange through its troubled first year and during its current rebound, will leave at the beginning of next month.
DeRousse is one of three key officials to depart from the exchange since last year. She has been with the agency since it started three years ago. The exchange’s first executive director, Jon Hager, left in February. C.J. Bawden, the exchange’s first communications director, left in August.
DeRousse said she’s shifting her career out of government.
“I have spent an amazing three years doing historic work. But I am looking forward to new challenges and experiences in the private sector.”
DeRousse leaves the exchange in the middle of an open enrollment period when consumers can buy subsidized health insurance plans offered through the Affordable Care Act. Nevada consumers have not had the problems that characterized the Nevada exchange and the federal system during its first open enrollment period last year.
The exchange came online in 2011 after Gov. Brian Sandoval urged lawmakers to pass legislation to implement the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, in Nevada.
The exchange hired Xerox to build enrollment and billing software for the exchange’s online portal, Nevada Health Link. Problems were quick to emerge when Health Link launched in 2013.
Xerox’s system was riddled with more than 5,000 glitches. Consumers paid for health insurance without immediately receiving coverage.
The exchange’s board fired Xerox in May.
DeRousse was often an intermediary between consumers and Xerox at a turbulent time in the country’s health insurance industry. As federal and state programs had problems facilitating insurance plans offered under Obamacare, DeRousse helped individuals who had problems with the Nevada system get coverage. She guided the exchange board on its decisions and was able to help the exchange as it came under harsh media scrutiny.
She was also influential in relaunching Health Link this year. She worked with federal officials on unplugging Nevada from the Xerox system and hooking into the federal program, healthcare.gov.
The state has seen few problems compared with last year. More than 47,000 consumers have already enrolled this year — 10,000 more than last year’s total. The state is likely to top the 50,000 number by the end of open enrollment on Feb. 15.
Pat Casale, a Las Vegas insurance broker, said DeRousse was not the reason why the exchange had problems last year.
“Shawna DeRousse was one of the true professionals working with Nevada Health Link,” he said. “She was instrumental in trying to get things fixed. She is going to be missed."