Zingale’s ‘Regulate Less, Talk More’ Approach Works
Department of Managed Health Care Director Daniel Zingale is "regulating less and talking more," Sacramento Bee columnist Daniel Weintraub writes, referring to Zingale's recent efforts to foster communication between the department, health plans and consumers. "Zingale has taken an interesting tack," Weintraub states, adding, "Instead of sneaking around, taking names and trying to nail companies for screwing up, he has cozied up to the health plan executives and said, in effect, 'why don't you guys just do the right thing so I won't have [to] come down hard on you?'" Among Zingale's recent initiatives is the state's new "HMO hotline," which allows patients registering a complaint to be "immediately" hooked into a conference call with their health plan. "In many cases, the problem can be resolved immediately with no further action," Weintraub writes. Peter Lee, president of Pacific Business Group on Health, praised Zingale's hotline approach, saying, "They're trying to provide solution-oriented advice. It's not just a matter of collecting tick marks on a sheet of paper. My impression is they're really oriented toward resolving problems."
Weintraub adds that Zingale "also is working with the plans to get the word out about his department," citing Zingale's intervention in the recent dispute between Blue Cross and Sutter Health. When the two companies took out "dueling newspaper ads" to publicize their case, Zingale "intervened and asked them to buy a joint ad giving patients information on how they could get help if needed." In addition, Zingale stepped in when KPC Medical Management recently declared bankruptcy, requesting that plans associated with the medical group send notices to members informing them of their rights and providing the DMHC hotline number. Zingale's "measured, incremental approach" to managed care issues is "not what everyone expected back when bashing the health plans -- and the state's oversight of them -- was in vogue," Weintraub says, adding, "Strangely enough, people seem to think that's just fine" (Weintraub, Sacramento Bee, 2/4).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.