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By Kathryn Mayer

The federal health exchange that in its first year was plagued with problems and protest has a new leader, federal health officials announced Tuesday.

Kevin Counihan, leader of Connecticut’s exchange, will take the reins of in his new role as Marketplace Chief Executive Officer.

“We are building strong teams with the focus and know-how necessary to advance our mission and deliver impact for the people we serve,” HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell said in a statement. “We are committed to instilling ongoing accountability for reaching milestones, measuring results and ensuring a successful open enrollment period.”

According to a HHS statement, in his new role, “Counihan will be responsible and accountable for leading the federal Marketplace, managing relationships with state marketplaces, and running the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, which regulates health insurance at the federal level. He will report to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner.”

Connecticut’s state exchange has been one of the most successful in the nation, succeeding enrollment projections. Access Health CT signed up about 79,000 people for coverage through Connecticut's exchange, while another 120,000 gained Medicaid coverage. Since 2012, the state’s uninsured rate has been cut nearly in half, from 7.9 percent to 4 percent.

Burwell created the executive position to in June as part of an effort to overhaul the troubled site ahead of the second enrollment period, which begins Nov. 15.

Burwell also named Lori Lodes, a senior vice president at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, as the new director of communications for CMS.

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