Arguably, Richard Onizuka has one of the toughest jobs in state government this year: As CEO of Washington Health Benefit Exchange (WHBE), it’s been his job to drive the launch of Washington’s Healthplanfinder, our state’s version of the health benefit exchanges mandated by the Affordable Care Act. And, early on things were looking good. At a time when many other states were still struggling with how to approach the creation of a health exchange (or to opt out and let the federal government run the exchange), Washington formulated its own plans, obtained $152 million in federal grants and secured $40 million in future funding from the state Legislature. By September, the WHBE board had approved 43 plans for the exchange (with the possibility of adding more) and the call center began taking calls from consumers. Unfortunately, in early October (right around our press time), technical glitches and complaints about usability plagued the high-profile launch but there’s plenty of time for this rash of problems to clear up.
The Full List: Most Influential People of 2013
Their finger prints are all over Seattle. From protecting honeybees to regulating marijuana to popping and locking, these 54 men and women (and in one case, a machine) are shaping our neighborhoods, economy, attitudes and future. In the case of our person of the year—for the first time in our nine years of compiling this list, it’s a tie!—the impact is on a global scale. We may not always like the direction they are taking us in but it’s hard to deny: these folks are taking us somewhere.