For the third time, the Orange County Board of Supervisors Tuesday delayed adding a “public” representative to the board of directors of CalOptima, the health plan for roughly 750,000 low-income and disabled Orange County children and adults.

Supervisors gave no reason for postponing the appointment until their Dec. 15 meeting. A staff report said the delay was to “extend the application review process time,” the same reason used for the two previous postponements. No new candidates are being sought.

CalOptima has a $3 billion annual budget, financed by federal and state tax funds, but its board is appointed by the county supervisors.

Two candidates, out of only five who applied, have been recommended to fill the seat intended to represent the public on the 11-member board. But both come from the hospital industry,  potentially giving that sector two voices on the board. Hospitals already have a permanent seat.

The two candidates were selected by a five-member panel comprised of three county workers and supervisors Andrew Do and Lisa Bartlett.

One of the candidates is Bartlett’s former Dana Point City Council colleague, Councilman Scott Schoeffel, a hospital lawyer. Bartlett served with Schoeffel until she was elected to the Board of Supervisors last November.

The other nominee is former hospital lobbyist Ronald R. DiLuigi, who retired in June after 17 years representing St. Joseph Health, which operates 16 hospitals including four in Orange County: St. Joseph, St. Jude, Mission and Hoag.

Before becoming a lobbyist, DiLuigi spent 27 years as an executive with the county’s Health Care Agency.

The California Hospital Association, which lobbies on behalf of hospitals, contributed $1,000 to Bartlett this year and $750 last year, according to her campaign reports. Do reported receiving $400 from the association this year.

The seat designated for a member of the public became vacant when former board member Steve Knoblock announced his resignation in August, 2014. County officials said they tried twice last fall to recruit a replacement, but no one applied. They tried again in June and got five applications for the opening.

Ads for the opening were printed in the ethnic magazines and newspapers Mahnameh Metro, which serves Orange County’s Iranian community, Nguoi Viet and Viet Bao, for the Vietnamese communities, the Spanish-language Unidos OC and the Orange County Register. The opening also was listed on the web sites of the Health Care Agency and CalOptima.

No stepped up recruitment efforts, such as use of social media, contacts with nonprofits or other advanced outreach tools were tried.

You can contact Tracy Wood at twood@voiceofoc.org and follow her on Twitter: @TracyVOC

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