The International Community Health Services (ICHS) board secretary Hiroshi Nakano was recently appointed to the Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board.

As a member of the board, Nakano said in a statement that he wants “to make sure that the Exchange stays responsive to the consumer and provides the broadest possible access to the public, especially to vulnerable and underserved populations and those who have difficulty accessing the website.”

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange was created in 2011 as a “public-private partnership” separate and distinct from the state. The Exchange is responsible for the creation of Washington Healthplanfinder, an online marketplace for individuals, families, and small businesses to find, compare, and enroll in qualified health insurance plans. The Exchange is governed by an 11-member Board comprised of a chair and eight members appointed by the governor from nominees put forward by each of the legislative caucuses.

“We still have the issue of providing broader language access to the Exchange,” Nakano said. “At the current time there are no plans to add Asian languages to the Healthplanfinder website, but it’s being studied. An open question is how we maintain good outreach to the public, especially for hard-to-reach populations. Other challenges include the ability of patients eligible for expanded Medicaid coverage of being able to choose their own health plan and providers, and the long-term sustainability of the Exchange.”

Nakano is the Chief Executive Officer of NeoSpine, a spine surgery and pain management practice based in Puyallup, with additional offices in Seattle and Poulsbo.

Nakano has been with ICHS for 16 years, serving in a variety of leadership positions on the board and working as a consultant to ICHS in the past. He has been associated with community health centers going back to 1978. Nakano, a native of Fife, Washington earned his undergraduate degree in Sociology from the University of Washington and his MBA at Cornell University.

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