Another hurdle cleared

L.A. Care, the public half of Los Angeles County's "two-plan model" for shifting Medi-Cal patients into managed care, received approval from the California Department of Corporations to direct patients to all seven of its private HMO partners.

L.A. Care opened its doors for business earlier this month, but with state approval to work with just one of those partners Blue Cross of California. The remaining partners CareFirst Health Plan, Community Health Plan, Kaiser Permanente, Maxicare Health Plans, Tower Health and United Health Plan will now likewise be allowed to enroll Medi-Cal members through L.A. Care.

Originally expected to begin operations in December, L.A. Care has faced repeated delays in gaining various state approvals. "This was another hurdle," said L.A. Care spokesman Keith Malone. "We've had (hurdles) since the get-go, but we've cleared them every time."

When up and running, L.A. Care and its private-sector counterpart Foundation Health will compete to provide care for L.A.'s roughly 1.5 million Medi-Cal-eligible patients.

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