An unusual string of abstentions by county supervisors and CalOptima board members continued Tuesday with Supervisor Janet Nguyen twice declining to vote on items on the supervisors’ public meeting agenda.
The two most recent items involved the adoption of employee health plan rates with Premier Wellwise and Premier Sharewell, Cigna, Kaiser Health Plans and Cigna Choice.
Nguyen didn’t specify the reasons she declined to vote during the meeting, but her aide, Christy Delp, said Nguyen “wasn’t comfortable voting on those items, given that the board is still in contract negotiations with other unions and there is a pending lawsuit too.”
Three other county supervisors voted for the agenda items without comment. Supervisor Todd Spitzer was not present.
Abstentions by supervisors and CalOptima board members were infrequent until this spring, shortly after the state Fair Political Practices Commission or FPPC launched an investigation of most of the supervisors and the 10-member CalOptima board of directors.
CalOptima is the county health plan for low-income, disabled and elderly residents. Most of the 440,000 county residents it serves are children.
The FPPC enforces state laws on campaign contributions and conflicts of interest.
In May after the FPPC began its investigation, two of the 10 CalOptima board members abstained on items during the monthly meeting. The June CalOptima meeting saw a string of abstentions, with some members leaving the room because of conflict concerns.
At one point, four of the 10 board members abstained from voting on health network contracts, and Nguyen, the county supervisor’s appointee on the board, abstained from voting on another item while two other board members left the room.
Another board member abstained at that meeting on a third issue.