A secret $300,000 study commissioned in 2011 by the CalOptima board of directors showed no serious management problems at the county’s health plan for low income, disabled and elderly residents.
At the time of the study, Supervisor Janet Nguyen was pushing to take over the health plan’s board of directors.
Despite being briefed weekly on the lack of findings during the study, Nguyen repeatedly claimed publicly there were severe problems at the $1.5-billion county health plan.
Those problems, she told her Board of Supervisors colleagues, justified a new county ordinance remaking the CalOptima board and giving control to the medical industry and county government.
A three-member majority of the Board of Supervisors, including Nguyen, Supervisor Bill Campbell and Supervisor Pat Bates, ultimately adopted the new ordinance but never did a public analysis of alleged management wrongdoing at the agency.
According to Leadership and Ethics Professor Ann Buchholtz, Research Director of the Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers Business School, the Theodora Oringher reports and surrounding events raise serious ethical issues concerning the Board of Supervisors and the way they handle public finances and policy.
Lack of “transparency and due diligence,” are the main ethical failings of the three-member Board of Supervisors majority that voted in December 2011 to overhaul the CalOptima board of directors, said Buchholtz.
“The board (of supervisors) is ethically responsible” for making sure CalOptima is well-run," she said. “You would not want to make major changes without evidence. They should have insisted on someone getting in there and finding out what is going on” before voting to support Nguyen’s new ordinance. And, she said, those findings should have been public.