FRESNO: United Health Restored To Financial Stability
United Health Centers, "a private, nonprofit clinic system providing health care services for thousands of low-income residents" in the Fresno area, is back on track with the appointment of a new CEO. The Fresno Bee reports that almost a year after the clinics were "threatened with closure after being temporarily stripped of state and federal grant funds" and following numerous management shakeups, Robert Harless has stepped into the CEO position. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ended funding for the clinics, which serve residents of Sanger, Huron, Kerman, Parlier, Orange Cove, Mendota and Earlimart, "because of financial and management concerns, including conflict of interest allegations against board members." And "because of the federal inquiry," Medi-Cal reimbursements and a low-interest, state-funded loan for a new clinic in Kerman were jeopardized. The clinic's problems were further heightened when the state attorney general launched an investigation into the board and "[t]hree lawsuits were filed on behalf of patients and fired employees." Eventually the disputed board members stepped down and a new board, headed by a local judge, was appointed. Funding for the clinic has since been restored and a new billing system has dramatically improved collections for the centers. Tom Uridel of the San Francisco office of the U.S. Public Health Service, said, "We feel positive about the direction of United Health Centers." Harless said his priority now is to create "a new five-year strategic plan for United," which includes the long-delayed expansion of the clinic in Kerman (6/1).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.