Patti McFarland, chief financial officer for just 10 months at CalOptima, the county’s $1.5-billion health plan for low income and disabled residents, has resigned and will take a similar position in Northern California.

McFarland’s resignation came just as CalOptima’s top management seemed to be stabilizing after two years of turmoil in which every key executive, including CEO, CFO, chief medical officer and chief operations officer, quit to take positions in private industry or other government agencies.

CalOptima CEO Michael Schrader stated in a March 14 notice to staff that McFarland, who began in June 2013, will stay through this June. She is leaving, he said, because “an unexpected opportunity became available that would allow her to move back home to Northern California.”

She will become CFO of Partnership HealthPlan, which is a public plan organized the same way as CalOptima, but slightly smaller. It is based in Fairfield in Solano County and covers 14 Northern California counties from the coast to the Nevada border north of San Francisco and Sacramento.

In an email statement from CalOptima, McFarland wrote that “CalOptima’s outstanding commitment to members and the community is what drew me to the organization and I am confident that their vital mission to provide quality health care services will grow even stronger in the years ahead.”

Schrader assured staff that CalOptima is in solid financial health. “Patti will be helping us with recruitment and a smooth transition to ensure our financial future remains just as positive,” he wrote.

He also stated that ongoing federal and state audits of CalOptima program operations are not affected.

“Patti does not have direct responsibility related to the CMS [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] audit, and our remediation efforts are on track and will not be impacted by her eventual departure,” Schrader declared.

The November CMS audit of CalOptima’s 16,000-member OneCare program, cited a “serious threat to the health and safety” of participants, most of them elderly.

Altogether, CalOptima has about 470,000 members, most children. State auditors are examining how programs for members other than OneCare are working.

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