Supervisors Sitting on Request for Grand Jury Probe of CalOptima

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More than a week after requesting the grand jury to investigate anonymous conflict of interest allegations against Ed Kacic, chairman of the CalOptima board of directors, Orange County supervisors still haven’t sent their formal request.

“It has not gone out yet,” said county spokesman Howard Sutter. “They are working on it.”

During debate on the issue at their Feb. 28 meeting, a three-member board majority said it was important to have the grand jury investigate so they were certain Kacic had no conflicts.

Allegations in the anonymous letter were strongly denied by Kacic, by the board of directors of the nonprofit he heads, by Irvine Health Foundation and by others involved with the issue.

After the supervisors’ vote, Kacic said he welcomed the investigation and hoped it would be very thorough.

But when Voice of OC began asking this week about the status of the referral to the grand jury, the county CEO’s staff said it was being handled by the county’s Health Care Agency.

Not us, said a spokeswoman for the Health Care Agency after seeking information from her organization for more than a day. “That directive was actually made to the CEO to draft the memo.”

Told that the referral still hadn’t gone to the grand jury, Kacic said in a telephone interview, “I would hope they would move with alacrity to get it to the grand jury.” The grand jury will “get all the facts and get to a conclusion as soon as possible,” he said.

In addition to the cloud that the anonymous letter and the board action put over his head, Kacic’s reappointment to the board is being held up pending results of the investigation, although he continues to serve in the interim.

The anonymous letter is part of an ongoing drama at the $1.4-billion health plan for the poor and elderly. Supervisor Janet Nguyen provoked the situation last year when she and a split Board of Supervisors decided to reconstitute the CalOptima board of directors, giving her and the medical industry more control over the agency.

If it determines it’s necessary, the grand jury could delve into a range of issues surrounding CalOptima. With the new national health care plan scheduled to begin in 2014, the medical industry faces major changes that will cost millions of dollars in federal and state tax funds.

— TRACY WOOD

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