State plays health exchange name game

'A uniquely California' approach to branding raises eyebrows
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If you build it, will they come? California, one of the states furthest along in creating its health benefit exchange, is looking for a buzz-inducing name to help sell the project.

So it asked stakeholders, marketing agencies and others for suggestions, reports California Healthline. The most buzz-inducing? "Avocado," with the slogan "A uniquely California approach to affordable healthcare."

Chris Kelly, senior adviser for marketing and outreach at the exchange, revealed the short list of possibilities at last week's meeting of the Health Benefit Exchange board. They fall in two categories: traditional--CaliHealth, CalAccess, Wellquest, Covered California and PACcess; and interesting--Ursa, Healthifornia (A Better State of Healthcare), Eureka (Discover affordable healthcare), Avocado (A uniquely California approach to affordable healthcare), Beneficia, Cal-Vida and Condor.

"When you're looking at branding the exchange, it's not just the name itself," Kelly said. "There also will be a tagline and a logo that goes with it, whenever you see it. So you have to look at it as part of a big system. When the name sits alone, it can sound funny."

That list will shrink to three or four before the board's Sept. 18 meeting. Condor has already been cut.

Board executive director Peter Lee announced that the federal government has approved the exchange's Level 1.2 grant request for $196 million and exchange staff are working on a Level 1.3 establishment grant to be submitted in November. The board also dealt with how agents would be paid and premium aggregation.

Gov. Jerry Brown recently announced plans to call a special session of the Legislature to deal with issues pertaining to the exchange that aren't worked out in the current session that ends Friday. The special session will be at the beginning of the next session, due to start Dec. 3, reports the Sacramento Business Journal.

The Journal also reports that the exchange has consolidated two offices into one location, with a target of having 175 employees by the end of 2012. It posted 52 new open positions this week, including administrative staff, project planners, actuaries and more.

Meanwhile, the Golden State also is making progress on its health information exchanges. Two-thirds of its counties will have HIEs or plan to have one by the end of 2012. In May, the state replaced Cal eConnect, which has helped California to launch its health information exchange over the last two years, with the Institute for Population Health Improvement, after Cal eConnect's board recommended that the state needed a more experienced organization to carry out the remainder of the HIE launch.

To learn more:
- read the Healthline article
- here's the Journal post
- check out the second Journal piece

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