The Arkansas lawmaker who sponsored the law creating the Health Insurance Marketplace Board has applied to serve as the marketplace’s executive director.
Rep. Mark Biviano, R-Searcy, is one of two applicants who’ve applied for the position to oversee the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace, according to records released by the board. Arkansas has partnered with the federal government to run its exchange, but the state is exploring whether to establish its own state-run insurance marketplace.
“I’m considering this because I think it’s a great opportunity to offer my skills to the state,” Biviano said. “I’ve had a great experience being a public servant and seeing what is possible, and I think we’ve got some great opportunities in Arkansas in the health care field, and if possible I’d like to make a contribution to that.”
Biviano’s application raises questions because state law prohibits a legislator from being hired by a state agency during the legislator’s term in office. Biviano told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that he didn’t know how the law would apply to the marketplace, which is a nonprofit organization supported by the state.
“I’m sure that will be evaluated,” Biviano said. “I want to do everything in accordance with the law.”
Matt DeCample, a spokesman for Gov. Mike Beebe, said the governor doesn’t object to Biviano’s application but has concerns on whether hiring the lawmaker would conflict with state law.
Beebe “assumes that it will be fully and properly checked out by the board and potentially” the attorney general’s office, DeCample said.
Biviano sponsored Act 1500 of 2013, which created the Health Insurance Marketplace Board and directed it to decide whether Arkansas should take over operations of the health-insurance exchange. The Legislature approved the measure in its session last year.
The board is accepting applications for director through March 1.