County Agency Votes To Retain Independence of Health Plan of San Mateo
The San Mateo County Health Commission on Wednesday voted to retain local control of Health Plan of San Mateo, rather than outsourcing day-to-day management of the health plan to Solano County-based Partnership HealthPlan of California, the San Jose Mercury News reports (Feder Ostrov, San Jose Mercury News, 2/5). Health Plan of San Mateo is managed by San Mateo County in an effort to expand Medi-Cal beneficiaries' network of pharmacies, hospitals and doctors by providing higher reimbursement rates than traditional Medi-Cal. It provides coverage to an estimated 43,000 Medi-Cal beneficiaries in the county. In October, health plan officials warned that they would be forced to cease operations unless the plan received government funding. The health plan is losing about $600,000 a month because medical inflation has outpaced state contributions. In November, former Finance Director Daniel Zingale pledged $2.4 million to the health plan, but approval of the funding was withdrawn when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) took office. It is unclear whether the funding will be restored (California Healthline, 1/16). Although the health plan will remain independent, "cost-cutting measures," including limiting patients' prescription drug choices and accounting changes, will reduce the health plan's annual costs by $4.7 million. According to Michael Murray, the plan's executive director, the plan's expenses will be reduced to $122 million and its deficit to about $3 million. The health commission members decided that the "draconian" budget cuts and a $1.2 million yearly management fee that Partnership managers proposed were "too great," according to the Mercury News (San Jose Mercury News, 2/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.