DEPARTMENT OF MANAGED CARE: Zingale Promises ‘Preventive Regulation’
Speaking last week at the California Association of Health Plans' three-day annual conference, Daniel Zingale, director-designee of the state's new Department of Managed Care, reiterated his intention to focus on "'preventive regulation' -- ways to improve the quality of care and delivery ... before enforcement of legislation is necessary." While Zingale did not comment on specific policy issues, he said he hopes to create a Consumer Resources Center as "part of a larger blueprint to make the department more consumer-friendly," and plans to open a Plan-Prover Relations Office that will allow health plans to offer ideas to the department. He said, "The message I was trying to get across was that I have an open-door policy to solve problems on the front end -- I want to work with [health plans] -- but ... if they don't put patients first I will act swiftly and decisively." Zingale and his office, which will take over regulation of California health plans from the Department of Corporations, will face high expectations. Consumer advocate Jamie Court said, "He's basically being dipped into a pot of boiling water and he doesn't even see the water rising." But Assemblyman Martin Gallego Gallegos (D-El Monte) said that Zingale "has an abominable, daunting task and he understands the new department will be under the microscope by all players in the industry." Zingale's task should be eased by the health plans' apparent acceptance of him and his new role. CAHP President Walter Zelman said, "He doesn't want to manage us to death. ... He is saying, 'I'll carry a significant stick for major problems.'" Beau Carter, executive director of the Integrated Healthcare Association, agreed, noting that the new department needed "someone who has a good patient-advocate background who understands managing care [for] patients with difficult problems and diseases ... but ... not somebody who comes in with a chip on his shoulder" (Fong, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/8).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.