Transparency Sought for Health Care Department

The Senate Committee on Appropriations yesterday unanimously approved a bill aimed at creating greater transparency and accountability at the state’s Department of Health Care Services.

“This bill is inspired by information we gathered at an oversight hearing last October and by seeing the way the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board conducts its business,” said Assembly member Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), author of AB 209.

The oversight hearing last fall dealt with the transition of children from the Healthy Families program (which had been overseen by MRMIB) to Medi-Cal managed care plans (which are administered by DHCS). The contrast in transparency between the two state agencies was the impetus for the bill, Pan said.

AB 209 is part of my effort to bring more transparency and accountability to the Department of Health Care Services,” Pan said. No additional funding is needed for his plan, Pan said, since DHCS already has money earmarked for quality and accountability improvements. Those funds, Pan said, might be better spent with legislative input.

“[This bill] provides more direction to DHCS on how the Legislature thinks the [existing] funds could be used to maximize transparency and accountability,” Pan said. “This will end up being more efficient and less costly than current practices.”

Sarah de Guia, director of government affairs at the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, said a little more transparency from DHCS could help inform policy decisions.

“This will really help our understanding of how [Medi-Cal] enrollees are getting coverage as well as identifying gaps in services, which will really help us save costs in the long run,” de Guia said at yesterday’s hearing.

All of that, de Guia said, translates to “minimal cost to the state, but great benefits in the long run.”

Pan is hoping to get a floor vote this week on the measure — in both houses — so it still could go to the governor this session.

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