The name was familiar, the face wasn't. When he stepped up to a microphone in Gov. C.L."Butch" Otter's office, the stranger was introduced as Dr. J. Mario Molina—as in the CEO of Molina Healthcare, the company in the middle of the firestorm that is Idaho's medicaid mess.
"I'm not here to make excuses," said Molina. "I want to apologize to providers who have had problems, and to the state of Idaho."
Molina appeared with Otter and Health and Welfare Director Dick Armstrong following a closed-door session with health-care providers representing physicians, senior care centers, developmental disability counselors and hospitals.
"I asked Dr. Molina to come here today to meet face to face with the providers," said Otter, "and to explain to me personally what happened and what's being done about it. I feel a lot more comfortable now that we'll get where Dick Armstrong said we would. But I also let both of them know that I'm holding them accountable for continuing that process and working closely with providers. I don't want anything to interfere with medicaid patients getting the care they need."
Armstrong told Citydesk that his agency has now identified 18 deficiencies. Many were outlined in BW's report, Promises Promises, Medicaid's Growing Sickness. Armstrong also said that Idaho's contract with Molina includes appropriate penalty clauses that address the outstanding issues.
"But right now, we're focused on corrective action. We expect many of the problems to be rectified by Oct. 1," said Armstrong. "That's not to say we still won't have some concerns, but our expectations are very clear."
Molina said his company will have nearly 200 employees specifically working on Idaho's outstanding issues. It's estimated that medicaid pays approximately 100,000 Idaho claims each week.
"We are very committed to do what is necessary to fix the system. We have weekly meetings with Health and Welfare and providers. You have my commitment that we will devote the time, energy and resources that are necessary."
Armstrong told Citydesk, "BW's reporting on this issue has, unfortunately, been right on target."