Howard Kahn, CEO of L.A. Care Health Plan, has seen the plan grow 38% since he became chief executive in 2001.
And Kahn is preparing for even more growth in the foreseeable future.
"Under health reform, it's clear that there are going to be hundreds of thousands of people in Los Angeles County eligible for Medicaid who never were before," Kahn says. "That's going to represent maybe another several hundred thousand members for L.A. Care, even before the exchange, even before the dual eligibles, and that's only two years away."
He says while the membership growth potential is great for L.A. Care, it's unfortunate for the community because it's an indicator of the rising population of low-income residents who need financial assistance to obtain healthcare. To increase the health of the local community overall, the plan operates family resource centers to provide wellness services and education for members and non-members in the neighborhoods where they live, such as Inglewood and Lynwood.
Prevention is an ongoing effort for most managed care plans, but it's essential for a public plan that has limited budgets and high care needs. Kahn says the resource centers attract several thousand visitors a month, and their participation in the prevention programs validates the approach.
"I just popped in to the Lynwood center one day to see what's happening when they don't know the CEO's coming for a visit," he says. "They had an exercise class going on in one room, and they had all the kids of the moms who were in the exercise class in the other room playing games. The place was packed."
L.A. Care serves a population that is culturally diverse, however, with the surge of new enrollees, it will also need to address more diverse care needs. Last year, the state began enrolling disabled Medi-Cal beneficiaries in managed care under a federal waiver, and these enrollees need acute as well as long-term care. Kahn says the plan is building up its provider network to address the volume and the depth of care required for its growing member population.