Two New Appointments to Exchange Board

On Thursday, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) appointed two new members to the Covered California board of directors. A third seat on the health benefit exchange’s five-member board still needs to be filled by state Senate leadership. 

Genoveva Islas is the regional program director for the Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program in Tulare and program director of the Cultiva La Salud program at the Public Health Institute, a health policy not-for-profit group based in Oakland and Washington, D.C.

Marty Morgenstern has been a longtime labor relations and workforce development expert, and most recently has been a senior adviser for the governor since 2013, after serving for two years as secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency.

They replace Kim Belshé and Susan Kennedy, both appointees of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). Kennedy was Schwarzenegger’s chief of staff and Belshé was secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. With her strong fund of knowledge from running HHS, Belshé had a significant hands-on influence in crafting the exchange’s direction. For instance, she wrote the establishment grant that helped set up the parameters and structure of the exchange.

The third vacancy was created when Robert Ross, president and CEO of The California Endowment, resigned from his exchange board seat in December.

“After this crucial first four years getting Covered California up and running, and many Californians enrolled,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, “the next challenge for these new board members is to really use the bargaining power of Covered California to improve our coverage and ultimately our health.”

The original intent in planning the exchange was to have Covered California self-sufficient by January 2015. So far, most of the enrollment goals mapped out four years ago have been met or exceeded.

Both of the governor’s appointees must be confirmed by the state Senate.

Islas previously worked at the state Department of Public Health as an area field representative at the California Diabetes Program.

Morgenstern’s history of labor-relations work is a long one. He was director of the state Department of Personnel Administration for four years and served on the California Public Employment Relations Board and was a longtime director of the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (starting in 1975, under a younger version of Gov. Brown). He has worked as a labor-relations consultant for the University of California and at one time was chair of the UC-Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education.

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