The county Board of Supervisors Tuesday appointed hospital executive Lee Penrose to a second, four-year term on the board of CalOptima but once again put off naming someone to the seat reserved for a member of the public.
Penrose is president and CEO of the nonprofit St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton. He fills the seat on the 11-member board set aside for a representative from a hospital.
Supervisors also were scheduled to fill the public vacancy, but deferred that appointment, with no explanation, until their Oct. 27 meeting. The vote for Penrose was 4-0 with Supervisor Michelle Steele absent.
Both candidates for the public slot come from hospital backgrounds, which would presumably give the hospital industry a larger voice on the CalOptima board.
One candidate is Ronald R. DiLuigi, who retired in June after 17 years as a lobbyist for St. Joseph Health, which operates 16 hospitals including four in Orange County: St. Joseph, St. Jude, Mission and Hoag.
Before becoming a lobbyist, he spent 27 years as an executive with the county’s Health Care Agency.
The other candidate is Dana Point City Councilman Scott Schoeffel, a hospital lawyer who, until April, was a vice president and general legal counsel for Santa Ana-based Integrated Healthcare Holdings Inc. (IHHI), operator of four Orange County hospitals.
While IHHI was the subject of years of financial controversy, it is probably best known for losing a $5.7-million civil suit in which the firm’s former CEO, Bruce Mogel, was accused of planting a loaded gun and drugs in the car of Dr. Michael W. Fitzgibbons, who had bested IHHI in a previous case.
Supervisors Andrew Do and Lisa Bartlett served on the committee that selected DiLuigi and Schoeffel. Private hospitals and the rest of the medical industry are substantial donors to political campaigns.
It is the second time supervisors have delayed acting on either DiLuigi or Schoeffel to fill the seat that former public member Steve Knoblock gave up in August, 2014.
CalOptima is the $3 billion federal and state financed county health plan that covers 740,000 poor, elderly and disabled residents.
You can contact Tracy Wood at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter: @TracyVOC.