County officials have begun searching for seven people to serve on the newly revamped CalOptima board of directors which oversees the $3.2 billion health plan for low income and disabled residents.

The seven must be selected before Aug. 4 when a new ordinance takes effect that remade the health plan’s board for the second time in five years.

Board members will serve a four-year term with the option to seek a second term.

The full Board of Supervisors will vote on the final nominees but a five-member selection panel, comprised primarily of the supervisors or their delegates, will determine the list of finalists.

The new, nine voting member CalOptima board will include two supervisors plus:

* A current or former hospital administrator.

* A licensed medical provider in current practice and who is not an owner or officer or a member of the board of directors of a contracted independent physician’s association a health network.

* A licensed physician in current practice and who is also a representative of a contracted independent physician’s association or health network.

* A member of the public who is a legal resident of Orange County.

* A representative of a community clinic;

* A current CalOptima member or family member of a current CalOptima member. “Family member” means a parent, sibling, foster parent, or legal guardian.

* A person who has any of the following qualifications, with prior health care system experience preferred:
a) A professional accountant; or
b) Someone with professional public finance experience; or
c) A practicing attorney

A news release from the county Health Care Agency, which is managing the application process, said the county “is seeking applicants who represent the diverse backgrounds, interests and demographics of Orange County residents and have the experience and expertise to operate a public healthcare system.”

Applications can be downloaded from the agency’s website and must be mailed, along with a resume, by April 15 to: Health Care Agency, Attn: Donna Grubaugh 405 W. 5th St., Ste. 458 Santa Ana, CA 92701.

In recent years, CalOptima has been riddled with internal turmoil caused in part by the departure of about two dozen top managers that left for higher-paying private sector jobs.

The wave of departures coincided with controversial moves by Supervisor Janet Nguyen to overhaul the board of directors so the hospital industry had greater power. During this period, Nguyen, who is now a state senator, was able to significantly increase her campaign donations from the hospital industry.

In 2014, a federal audit of CalOptima’s then 16,000-member OneCare program for mostly elderly, low income county residents was found to pose a “serious threat to the health and safety” of participants and the organization was prohibited from adding new members until problems were fixed and a new audit was completed. The federal sanctions were lifted in 2015.

Supervisors Lisa Bartlett and Andrew Do, who currently serve on the CalOptima board, rewrote Nguyen’s ordinance and the Board of Supervisors approved it in February.

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

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