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Name: Barnhart, Brent
Current Position: Former director

Governor Jerry Brown selected Brent A. Barnhart, an attorney and former lobbyist for the health insurance industry, to head the DMHA. He came out of retirement to accept the appointment in August 2011 and left in October 2013.

Barnhart has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California, Riverside and a law degree from Indiana University, Bloomington. He was admitted to the bar in 1969.

The Danville resident was California legislative director of the American Civil Liberties Union from 1975 to 1983.  Barnhart was senior attorney and legislative advocate at Blue Cross of California from 1983-1987. He served as counsel and secretary for the Assn. of California Life and Health Insurance Cos. trade group from 1987-1991 before returning to Blue Cross as legislative affairs director from 1991-1993. Barnhart was a policy committee consultant to the state Assembly from 1993-1996.

After his brief stint in government, Barnhart returned to the private sector as senior counsel for 13 years (1996-2009) at Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, a nonprofit that provides health care for 8.8 million people in eight states and Washington, D.C. He will now be overseeing a department that regulates HMO coverage for more than 21 million Californians.

“This is a career capper for me,” Barnhart said. “This is like being released to do what I want—to make things work.” 

Barnhart’s voting affiliation is decline-to-state.


Jerry Brown to Appoint Brent Barnhart Head of HMO Watchdog (by David Siders, Sacramento Bee)

Governor Brown Announces Appointments (Official Press Release)

Ex-HMO Attorney Named Head Regulator of California Health Plans (by Duke Helfand, Los Angeles Times)

Brown Appoints HMO Veteran to Direct Healthcare Agency (Bay City News Service)

Brent A. Barnhart, Director (DMHC website)




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