Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: August 29, 2019
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alena Yarmosky, Alena.Yarmosky@governor.virginia.gov

Director Dr. Jennifer Lee to Step Down After Leading DMAS Through Successful Expansion of Medicaid

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Dr. Jennifer Lee, the Director of the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS), will step down effective October 9 after successfully leading the Medicaid agency through the largest expansion of health coverage in Virginia in decades.

“Dr. Lee served an essential leadership role in Virginia’s historic expansion of the Medicaid program this year, bringing health care to more than 300,000 hard-working Virginians,” said Governor Northam. “As an emergency physician and a public servant, Dr. Lee has dedicated her life to disadvantaged individuals and families who have faced barriers in accessing quality health care. I am grateful for her commitment to those she serves, and for her tremendous work on behalf of our Commonwealth.”

Dr. Lee is a board-certified emergency physician and policy expert who previously served as Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Resources under Governor Terry McAuliffe and as Deputy Under Secretary for Health at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs under President Obama.

“Dr. Lee is an extraordinary physician leader who is dedicated to excellence,” said Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Daniel Carey. “She has made a lasting positive impact, not only through Medicaid expansion, but through the transformative changes she has launched at DMAS to modernize the program and bring a renewed focus on Medicaid members. These initiatives have put the Virginia Medicaid agency at the forefront of patient-centered, innovative reforms that serve as a national model.”

“Throughout my career, my patients and their families have inspired me to pursue policies that support access to health care and empower all people to achieve their greatest personal potential. I am so proud of the historic accomplishments we made together to change the landscape of health care in my home state of Virginia,” Dr. Lee said. “I want to thank Governor Northam and Secretary Carey for their support as well as the amazing staff I have had the privilege of serving with at DMAS. They bring their best to work every day because they care about the people they serve. It has been an honor to be a part of the DMAS team.”

Dr. Lee recently married and has been commuting from northern Virginia where she and her husband and their families reside. She plans to practice medicine and teach future physician and policy leaders.

In two years under Dr. Lee’s leadership, DMAS has significantly expanded coverage and implemented new initiatives that will contribute to higher quality, more equitable and more affordable health care in Virginia. DMAS launched a Medicaid Member Advisory Committee, completed a comprehensive review of forecasting and rate-setting, made investments in program research and evaluation, created a new Office of Value-Based Purchasing and an Office of Quality and Population Health, and tripled its investment in staff training and development. 

Dr. Lee will transition her responsibilities to Karen Kimsey, Chief Deputy Director, who will serve as the new Director of DMAS. Kimsey has served the agency for almost 25 years, in a variety of roles, including Deputy Director of Complex Care and Services, Director of Policy and Research, and Director of the Office of Behavioral Health. Kimsey has a bachelor’s degree in social work from James Madison University, and a master’s degree in social work and gerontology from Virginia Commonwealth University.

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