November 22, 2019

Covered California Names Jim Watkins as New Chief Financial Officer

  • Watkins comes with 26 years of experience in state service, including 24 at the Department of Health Care Services.
  • Watkins will be responsible for managing and administering the overall financial activities of Covered California, including its strategy for financial sustainability.
  • Watkins replaces the retiring Dora Mejia who helped launch Covered California and set it on strong financial footing.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — On Thursday, Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee announced to the agency’s board the appointment of Jim Watkins as its new chief financial officer.

As the CFO, Watkins will be responsible for managing and administering the overall financial activities of Covered California, including its strategy for financial sustainability. Watkins will be responsible for planning, implementing, managing and controlling all finance-related activities of Covered California. He will have direct responsibility for accounting, finance, forecasting, budgeting and related government compliance. As a key member of the Executive Management team, Watkins will advise executive leadership on all financial matters for the organization.

Watkins had served as the deputy director of Financial Planning and Forecasting Operations within the Financial Management Division at Covered California since October, and prior to that was the chief of the Research and Analytic Studies division at the Department of Health Care Services for 12 years. 

“Jim has shown deep understanding of health care, independent judgement and strong analytic skill in leadership roles, along with an ability to work in politically sensitive areas under significant pressure and timeframes,” Lee said. “He will be an asset to Covered California and build on the solid foundation we’ve developed.”

Watkins will be replacing the retiring Dora Mejia, who began her service with Covered California as deputy director of financial operations in 2013, just months before the agency began making health insurance policies available to consumers.

Under Mejia Covered California transitioned from an agency initially funded with, and reliant on, a federal grant to a self-sustaining and fiscally sound organization with revenues generated from fees charged to health care plans. She managed a $340.2 million operating budget that supports marketing programs, our consumer service centers, sales, information technology and a host of other services that has helped make health insurance affordable and accessible.

Watkins is a Certified Public Accountant and received his Bachelor of Science degree from University of San Francisco and his Master of Public Policy and Administration from California State University, Sacramento. He has 16 years of high-level experience managing both fiscal and health policy issues in state government. He will earn $180,000 annually, effective December 1, 2019.

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.

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

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