Joel Ario says he meant it as a compliment.
It was January 2011, and Ario -- the White House's point man on exchanges at the time -- was having dinner with Diana Dooley, California's newly installed HHS secretary. And seeking to praise California, Ario told Dooley that her state had emerged as one of the nation's "pace cars" when it came to implementing the Affordable Care Act.
Dooley quickly corrected him, Ario recalled in an interview with California Healthline this week.
"[Dooley] told me, 'Pace cars don't actually win the race,'" Ario said. "'We want to be the lead car.'"
Forty months later, California's clearly pulled ahead of the pack.
No state signed up more residents during Obamacare's first open enrollment period, or grew its Medicaid rolls by a larger amount. Read more...