Lowry names Christenson to lead Health Care Authority

OLYMPIA -- Gov. Mike Lowry today named Gary L. Christenson administrator of the Washington Health Care Authority (HCA) and chairman of the Public Employees Benefits Board.

"Gary brings a wealth of experience and insight to the job from his work in various areas of state government," the governor said. "I look forward to having Gary continue the excellent work of the Health Care Authority to control health care costs and make affordable health care a reality for everyone."

Christenson said his greatest challenge will be to increase access to affordable health care.

"I am extraordinarily enthusiastic about this chance to increase access to affordable health care," Christenson said. "I want to ensure that all of the people served by the HCA, both public employees and members of the state's Basic Health Plan, enjoy the highest quality benefits and service possible, while we carefully manage the funds entrusted to us by taxpayers."

Christenson, 49, was named acting administrator of the HCA in December when Margaret Stanley, former administrator, left the agency to accept a position in California.

Christenson who has served as deputy administrator for the HCA and formerly was the director for the Washington Basic Health Plan. He worked with the Washington Commission on Efficiency and Accountability in Government and was an assistant commissioner of the Washington State Employment Security Department. During his tenure as assistant commissioner, Christenson managed the state's Unemployment Insurance Program, and the state's Employment Services Program, as well as field operations and administration and finance divisions.

He also has received numerous honors, including the Governor's Distinguished Management Leadership Award. Christenson also has served on the board of directors for the Community Mental Health Center in Thurston and Mason counties, and the Seattle University Advisory Council for masters in public administration, and has chaired the Graduate Career Exchange at Seattle University.

Christenson begins his duties today. His salary will be $93,659 annually.

The HCA provides medical, dental, basic life and long-term disability insurance coverage to eligible employees through the Public Employees Benefits Board program. The HCA also is the consolidated state purchasing agency for health care services and administers the Basic Health Plan.

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For more information, contact the Governor's Communications Office at 360-753-6790.