Statement Peter Lee Leaving Covered California

For immediate release: Thursday, September 16, 2021

For more information, contact:
Rachel Linn Gish, Director of Communications, Health Access California, 916-532-2128 (cell)


SACRAMENTO, CA – During today’s Covered California board meeting, Peter Lee, the first Executive Director of Covered California, announced he will be departing the role in February of next year. Covered California, established in 2010, was the first state-based exchange to be created after the enactment of the Affordable Care Act. Lee took the helm in 2011 and working alongside advocates, health plans, and enrollers, built an exchange that now enrolls over 1.5 million Californians and serves as a model for the nation.

Below is a statement from Anthony Wright the Executive Director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition, which helped to craft the legislation creating Covered California and serves a key voice in its continued growth and consumer-centered design:

“Hundreds of thousands of Californians have health insurance, and better and more affordable coverage, because of Peter Lee’s efforts not just implementing but improving upon the Affordable Care Act. The ACA has seen its share of near deaths, but at each turn Peter proactively found work-arounds and other state-based responses to protect consumers’ coverage.

“In multiple ways, Peter Lee used the bargaining power of over 1.5 million Californians to take best-in-the-nation steps to reduce costs, improve quality, and advance equity for consumers. Peter’s work to standardize benefits across insurers is a national model to reduce consumer confusion, allowing Californians to make apples-to-apples comparisons, and foster real price competition. Elsewhere, decisions about the design of benefits are made in a private corporate boardroom, but Peter created a space where stakeholders, including patient advocates and health plans, could work together to make Covered California the most consumer friendly exchange in the country. Peter has not been afraid to say no to insurers who weren’t offering added value, or who tried to play games to get healthier consumers and avoid sicker ones.

“He quickly implemented state-level affordability assistance to ensure Californians got the best coverage at the lowest prices. This first-in-the-nation premium help served as the proof of concept for the relief in the American Rescue Plan, which is now helping millions of Americans finally afford health care coverage for themselves and their families. When Congress hopefully makes this additional affordability assistance permanent in the Build Back Better package, all Americans will have Peter to partially thank for that extra help accessing health coverage.

“It’s a testament to the infrastructure and team Peter built at Covered California that most Californians will not notice this leadership transition, but because of him, millions of Californians have better, more affordable, more understandable health care coverage, and the peace of mind and financial stability that comes with that.”