Governor Newsom Picks New California Health Agency Leaders

For immediate release: Monday, December 7, 2020

For more information, contact:
Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, 916-870-4782 (cell)
Rachel Linn Gish, director of communications, Health Access California,, 916-532-2128 (cell)


Health and consumer advocates excited to work with new, experienced leaders of key health agencies, including Department of Public Health, Department of Managed Health Care, and the Office of State Health Planning and Development

New agency heads have track record in taking on challenges of the new pandemic, and ongoing efforts to advance public health, protect patients, and hold the health sector accountable to control costs and improve quality and equity

SACRAMENTO, CA – In response to new appointments of key California state health agencies by Governor Newsom, here is a statement from Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition:

“Health and consumer advocates are excited to work with these new experienced and impressive leaders of state health agencies, who will be critical in the effort to confront the challenges brought by COVID-19, but also to protect patients and improve access, quality, and equity in our health system, now and post-pandemic.”

“We look forward to working with Dr. Aragón, as the new Director of the California Department of Public Health, who is taking an incredibly important leadership role that will be key in the messaging and mechanisms to prevent hospitalizations and deaths. He will serve as a trusted voice for Californians when we need it most, to help strengthen efforts on vaccines, testing, and tracing. We stand ready to work with him, not just on COVID-19, but other public health issues that plague our communities.”

“We have respected and appreciated working with Mary Watanabe in her various health roles at Covered California and elsewhere, and look forward to her continuing efforts to protect patients at California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) as its director. DMHC plays a critical role in ensuring most Californians have the care and coverage they need and in holding the health plans accountable. We are excited for the full slate of agenda items Watanabe has queued up, on everything from locking in coverage for testing, treatment, and therapeutics, to ensuring timely access to care more broadly.”

“Health consumer advocates have been privileged to work in the trenches with the smart and effective Elizabeth Landsberg as a fellow consumer advocate over many years, in her work at Western Center on Law and Poverty, and at the Help Center at the Department of Managed Health Care. We are thrilled to now have the opportunity to work with her in the director role at the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, on improving our the transparency of our health system, and making it more effective and equitable. We look forward to her work on the Office’s wide-ranging portfolio includes key issues like prescription drug price reporting and hospital charity care and fair pricing policies. In particular, her work to set up the Health Payments Database will be foundational in efforts to control costs and improve quality and equity in our health system.”