CalOptima Sends Letters Seeking Refunds From Former Chairmen

CalOptima sent letters Wednesday to two former board chairmen and two nonprofits seeking reimbursement for about $90,000 in staff time and office space it said was used without official permission.

But CalOptima’s former chief executive officer, Richard Chambers, again said he authorized the staff work, which he said was done to benefit the community and ultimately CalOptima. As part of the overall effort, CalOptima gained about $12.5 million.

Most of those named in the letters couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday. The CalOptima board voted last week to seek reimbursement from Ed Kacic and Michael Stephens, former board chairmen. Kacic is president of the Irvine Health Foundation, and the letters seek a total of $8,346 from Kacic and the foundation.

Kacic said earlier he never was interviewed by CalOptima about the issue, and he and the foundation’s lawyer have said repeatedly that the accusations are wrong.

Another $82,000 in salary reimbursement is being sought from Stephens and the Managed System of Care, where Stephens was a consultant.

CalOptima is the $1.4-billion state and federally financed health plan for about 430,000 low-income, disabled and elderly county residents.

The Managed System of Care board was formed in 2009 by the CEOs of the county’s top hospitals as well as Chambers from CalOptima, Kacic and other health providers. Its goals included seeking federal and other funds to augment programs for county residents who didn’t have health insurance. The programs were intended to provide health care alternatives, like urgent care and 24-hour nursing hotlines to help cut emergency room visits.

Chambers said last week and again Wednesday that he authorized CalOptima staff to help the Managed System of Care. The CalOptima letters state it is owed $82,045 for staff work and office space for more than five months in 2010 when a CalOptima employee helped Stephens.

It asked Kacic and the Irvine Health Foundation to reimburse $8,346 in staff time this year for work on a federal grant application for the Managed System of Care. The nonprofit didn’t win the federal grant.

The letters were signed by CalOptima’s compliance officer, Denise Corley, and ask for the money by Oct. 12.