AUGUSTA (AP) – Gov. John Baldacci announced five nominees Friday for the board of directors of Maine’s ambitious Dirigo Health plan.

Proposed members include Mary Henderson of Maine Equal Justice, Dana Connors of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, Carl Leinonen of the Maine State Employees Association, Charlene Rydell, who is a policy adviser to U.S. Rep. Tom Allen, and Dr. Robert McAfee, a former president of the American Medical Association.

McAfee was nominated as chairman.

The nominations are subject to review by the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee and to confirmation by the Senate.

Ex officio nonvoting members will include two members of Baldacci’s Cabinet – professional and financial regulation chief Robert Murray and finance commissioner Rebecca Wyke – and Trish Riley, director of the Governor’s Office of Health Policy and Finance, who is expected to be the governor’s principal liaison.

Serving as Baldacci’s top health policy aide, Riley was instrumental in the design and enactment of the Dirigo Health legislation, which aims to expand access to affordable insurance coverage by 2009 to all Mainers who need it.

The new law also seeks to lower health care costs through voluntary pricing caps.

Rydell worked with the Baldacci administration in the development of the Dirigo Health plan and Leinonen, Henderson and Connors were all active in the debate about it.

Top Baldacci aide Jane Lincoln said Friday the administration hopes to put the nominees before lawmakers at a special confirmation session this fall.

The Dirigo Health board will set policy guidelines for the implementation and operation of the new health care system. The board will also hire an executive director for the program and establish a benefits package to be offered by participating carriers.

Additionally, the board will establish an alternative plan for providing insurance in the event that private carriers are unavailable. The board will also set a subsidy scale for aiding a low-income insurance enrollment and determine savings offset payments that are to fund premium subsidies.

The board is expected to advise the governor on the development of a state health plan and other state officials on approvals of health-related projects.

Barred from serving as voting members of the board are employees or representatives of an insurance carrier, a health care provider or a health or health-related organization regulated by the state.

AP-ES-09-05-03 1443EDT

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