Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen struck back at the Orange County Grand Jury this week, in an editorial published by the O.C. Register.
Nguyen claims that CalOptima, the County’s largest insurer – which provides for the health care needs of the poor, was wasting money. In particular she referenced the purchase of a building that was bought by CalOptima and for which they are still paying a lease. But Supervisor John Moorlach “defended the building purchase, saying the cash transaction reduced the organization’s overall occupancy costs even though it had to keep its lease at the former building,” according to the O.C. Register.
So Nguyen wants to set the record straight? OK – let’s have a look at just what she did to CalOptima – as we try to figure out what her intentions were:
- A plan to give Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen a permanent seat on the county’s CalOptima board is triggering a firestorm of controversy, even before its Tuesday debut at the board’s regular meeting. Supervisor Shawn Nelson confirmed late Friday that Nguyen had lobbied him for adoption of the proposal, which he adamantly opposes. (Voice of OC).
- CalOptima Chairman Edward Kacic took direct aim at Nguyen in a weekend email protesting her ordinance amendment. On Tuesday, he decried the lack of transparency involved in the changes. “I don’t believe there was input from the consumers, or other provider groups,” Kacic wrote. He called Nguyen’s proposal the “most radical revision of CalOptima proposed since it was started.” (Voice of OC).
- “If this nation is looking for a health care model, CalOptima is phenomenal,” said Moorlach, a fiscal conservative who was Nguyen’s predecessor on the health program’s board, serving for four years. (Voice of OC).
- Nguyen said dramatic alterations to CalOptima’s nine-member governing board were needed immediately because of the many complaints she’d received since January, when she became the supervisors’ CalOptima representative. Yet records show CalOptima received only five complaints during the past four months relayed by the county’s top elected officials from their constituents, a spokeswoman said. (Voice of OC).
- At the CalOptima board meeting last week, the staff delivered the news that CalOptima’s OneCare plan for 13,000 Medicare and Medi-Cal special-needs adults was given a four-star “above-average” Medicare rating for 2012. Only four of the other 41 Medicare Advantage plans in Orange County received a four-start rating, according to a news release. The top rating is five stars and nationwide only nine plans reached that level. The plan’s previous rating was 3.5. (Voice of OC).
- Meanwhile for the third consecutive year, CalOptima has been honored by the state for “superior performance,” according to a news release from the chairman of the state Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board. Federal and state funds are used in the program, called Healthy Families in California, to provide health and dental coverage and an optional vision care plan for children without insurance. (Voice of OC).
- A $250-per-person campaign fundraiser for Supervisor Janet Nguyen will be held Feb. 28 at the home of Dan Brothman, the CEO of Santa Ana’s Western Medical Center. The “Tribute to Supervisor Janet Nguyen” follows Nguyen’s successful drive last year to give hospitals a permanent seat on the board of the $1.4-billion CalOptima health plan for Orange County’s poor and elderly. (Voice of OC).
- Richard Chambers Tuesday announced his resignation as the CEO of CalOptima, Orange County’s $1.4-billion health program for poor and elderly people. Chambers, who has led CalOptima since 2004, will leave in April to become president of Long Beach-based Molina Healthcare California, a physician-owned firm that manages Medi-Cal and Medicare coverage for 350,000 people in five counties. (Voice of OC).
- When CalOptima CEO Richard Chambers announced his resignation earlier this month, he became the sixth top executive to leave Orange County’s $1.4-billion health care plan in less than a year. The departures come at a particularly bad time, for CalOptima will have to absorb a huge influx of new patients in the coming years if the new national health care reform law is implemented as planned. Some who know the dynamics of CalOptima say it is no coincidence that the organization is losing so many top leaders during a time when Nguyen has successfully pushed to remake the board while leveling generally unspecific accusations of mismanagement. (Voice of OC).
- The Orange County Board of Supervisors is set to vote today on candidates to fill four open seats on the newly restructured board of directors of CalOptima, the $1.4-billion health plan for the county’s poor and elderly. Nine finalists were selected from a list of 52 applicants. The nine include two campaign contributors to Supervisor Janet Nguyen, who was the driving force behind the board’s reorganization. (Voice of OC).
- During a special Tuesday afternoon meeting at the agency’s headquarters in Orange, board members voted for the ouster of Ed Kacic as board chairman. Kacic openly confronted CalOptima General Counsel Gary Crockett over the legality of the meeting. Tuesday’s vote came after the resignation of CalOptima Vice Chair Jim McAleer, who wrote to county supervisors this week saying he was resigning in protest because of the instability created at CalOptima by Nguyen’s jockeying for control. (Voice of OC).
- Since last year, 15 high-level executives have left CalOptima, most notably former CEO Richard Chambers and former COO Dr. Greg Buchert. “I made a personal decision to find other ways to serve vulnerable individuals when it became apparent that CalOptima in the future would operate differently from its past,” Buchert said. “It is no surprise to me that many others also left to join other creative, mission-driven organizations.” (Voice of OC).
- A key quality-of-care rating for a CalOptima health plan that covers 13,000 low-income, elderly Orange County residents dropped slightly this month, but officials said it isn’t a sign of trouble. But others familiar with the program, known as OneCare, said the drop should be closely monitored at an agency that has experienced more than a year of management turmoil. (Voice of OC).
- Supervisor Janet Nguyen raised about $50,000 in campaign contributions from the medical industry in the nine months after she began restructuring the board of CalOptima to give health providers a stronger voice, according to her campaign reports. Nguyen’s role in aiding the health industry, particularly hospitals, was highlighted last week in a county grand jury report that chastized the majority of the Board of Supervisors for not protecting the $1.5-billion health plan that cares for the county’s disabled, low-income and elderly residents. (Voice of OC).