Managed Care Background Morphs Into Obamacare
Connecticut's new insurance marketplace created to implement the Affordable Care Act is up and running, but the work is just beginning for the exchange's general counsel.
Virginia Lamb, of New London, was appointed to build and oversee the legal department for Access Health CT. As of October 15, the marketplace had enrolled 3,847 individuals for insurance coverage. But it hopes to have 100,000 sign up before the enrollment period ends March 31.
Though the sign-up period is just underway, Lamb has been at her job for quite some time.
Since early 2012, she has worked with her staff of three other lawyers — including Susan Rich-Bye and Tammy Preisner and Chad Brooker — to create policies and codes of conduct for the organization' outreach workers and other employees. They have also prepared informational materials, and trained outreach workers on the legal language to use when signing people up to receive government-subsidized insurance.
More recently, Lamb has turned her attention to more than 60 contracts the health care exchange has entered to meet its obligations, including the lease for a New Britain storefront set to open on October 29. The Connecticut exchange also has several multi-million dollar deals for outreach efforts, including contracts with radio and television stations to raise public awareness though advertisements.
"This is an extremely active place right now," said Lamb. "In many ways, in the role of GC, you have to set up everything to get the business started, so it's very much like being part of a start-up business. For starters, you have to put all of the policies and procedures in place, including a labor policy, an accounting policy."
In that way, she said, the work is really never-ending.
Lamb brings the unique perspective of a lawyer whose career has combined both the health care and legal professions, nearly in equal measure. After earning her law degree, her first job out of law school was working as legal editor, compiling the policies and procedures for a Washington, D.C, hospital. "The hospital administrators hired me to edit their manual, because they needed a lawyer to interpret what was going into it," Lamb said.
A native of the New London area, she returned to Connecticut in 1990, where she put her hospital background to work. She took a position with what was then Manchester Memorial Hospital, moving up to the director of managed care. Part of her job included working to arrange contracts on the hospital's behalf, to ensure it would get paid by insurance providers.