News Release

Date Posted

Covered California Announces Appointment of Karen Johnson as Chief Deputy Executive Director, Operations

Also Announces Selection of Darryl Lewis as Director, Office of the Ombudsman

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee announced today the appointment by the Board of Directors of Karen Johnson as chief deputy executive director, Operations; and the selection of Darryl Lewis as the first director of the Office of the Ombudsman.

Johnson will manage the Administrative Services, Financial Management and Information Technology divisions. She will be responsible for ensuring Covered California’s effectiveness through the development and implementation of policies and procedures for all operational tasks.

“In these uncertain times, having Karen’s leadership will serve Covered California well,” said California Health and Human Services Secretary and Covered California Board Chair Diana Dooley. “Throughout her 20-year career with the state of California, Karen has successfully implemented a broad range of complex programs with major impacts on the lives of Californians. We are happy she agreed to join the Covered California team.”

Johnson is currently the chief deputy director of the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS). She serves as one of the highest-ranking members of the department and manages and directs the day-to-day operations, implements the department's policies and assists in the formulation of policy to achieve DHCS's mission.

“With Karen, we are getting a seasoned public servant who will help us move Covered California into the future,” Lee said. “As with the recent appointment of Doug McKeever as chief deputy executive director for Programs, it is further testament to all we have done over the past five years and our potential for the future that Karen is also excited to join our team.”

Covered California also announced the selection of Darryl Lewis to oversee the newly created Office of the Ombudsman, where he will be responsible for advising on complex and sensitive policy issues, resolving complaints and answering questions about Covered California’s policies and practices. The position requires policy and consumer relations expertise and involves extensive contact with the public.

Lewis has been with Covered California since October 2012, when he joined as a staff services manager I in the Eligibility and Enrollment division to provide oversight of the enrollment website (California Healthcare Eligibility, Enrollment and Retention System).

“Darryl has a deep commitment to serving consumers and is well qualified to take on this important assignment for Covered California,” said Lee. “Our consumers will benefit immensely from his advocacy on their behalf.”

The annual salary for Johnson’s position is $190,000.

About Covered California
Covered California is the state’s health insurance marketplace, where Californians can find affordable, high-quality insurance from top insurance companies. Covered California is the only place where individuals who qualify can get financial assistance on a sliding scale to reduce premium costs. Consumers can then compare health insurance plans and choose the plan that works best for their health needs and budget. Depending on their income, some consumers may qualify for the low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal program.

In addition, small business owners can purchase affordable health insurance for their employees through Covered California for Small Business.
Covered California is an independent part of the state government whose job is to make the health insurance marketplace work for California’s consumers. It is overseen by a five-member board appointed by the governor and the legislature. For more information about Covered California, please visit