HMO REGULATION: Zingale Prepares for HMO Policing Duties
Although Daniel Zingale, California's new "HMO czar" has yet to levy one fine, managed care companies are anxiously awaiting his reign, the Sacramento Bee/Contra Costa Times reports. Scheduled to take over as head of the newly created Department of Managed Care on July 1, Zingale will be charged with regulating the state's HMO practices. Zingale already has indicated that he sees himself as a "patient advocate," promising to "come down hard" on plans that do not put their members first. However, he said that the new department will focus on correcting problems before they arise, serving more as a "control tower for the industry." Zingale said, "It's always a delicate intervention when government tries to assist the private sector," adding, "What we want to do is be helpful without getting in the way." The issues he plans to tackle first include enforcing and informing consumers about the state's new managed care laws, which took effect Jan. 1. The department will also spend time staffing and convening three new boards that will advise the department on legal, medical and financial issues. Zingale said the department also will establish an online resource site and a call center for consumers. Finally, Zingale and his staff plan to launch a statewide education campaign to raise awareness of the new department. Taking over regulation duties from the Department of Corporations, the Department of Managed Care will be armed with twice the staff, three times the funding and "a mandate to restore public confidence in managed care" (Fisher, 6/19).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.