Three seats on the powerful board that governs California’s multibillion-dollar health insurance exchange are up for grabs, giving the Brown administration – whose allies already comprise a majority on the five-member board — an opportunity to name two new directors.
Two seats held by appointees of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger expired last week. A third became vacant following the resignation last month of Robert Ross, the president of the nonprofit California Endowment, which advocates for improved access to health care.
Schwarzenegger put them on the board as part of an intensely negotiated, complex political deal in the waning days of his administration when the newly elected Jerry Brown was poised to take office.
The board supervises Covered California, the health insurance system — a market place and exchange — created by the federal reform law, the Affordable Care Act. About 1.12 million people enrolled last year for health insurance under a Covered California-sanctioned plan, and at least 1.3 million new enrollees are expected to enroll in 20156, according to figures provided by Covered California.
The terms expired a week ago for Susan Kennedy, Schwarzenegger’s former chief of staff, and Kim Belshé, his ranking health adviser and now the head of First 5, a nonprofit child advocacy group. Schwarzenegger put both on the board as part of an intensely negotiated, complex political deal in the waning days of his administration when the newly elected Jerry Brown was poised to take office. The seats do not require Senate confirmation.
Both said they will stay on the panel until Brown names replacements or reappoints them to their positions, according to published reports.
Ross, a 2011 Senate appointee backed by former Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg, announced his resignation effective last month. His replacement has not been announced.
Although the Senate appointment, at least on paper, is determined largely by the Senate Rules Committee, the reality is that the Senate leader wields great influence over the decision. Newly elected Senate Leader Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, has not indicated Ross’ successor.
The Assembly’s appointee on the board, currently Union Bank executive Paul Fearer, originally was named by former Speaker John Perez in March 2011 and reappointed to a seat that expires in 2017.
In addition to the governor’s power to name two appointees, Brown’s cabinet-level health and human services secretary, Diana Dooley, automatically chairs the Covered California board by virtue of her state position.