“Mental health care is preventive health care.”

“Mental health care is preventive health care.”

Making the Grades

Healthline: What will these report cards look like?

Zingale: We’re still developing the format. The goal is to present them in a format that is easy to use and will cross language, linguistic, and cultural barriers.

Healthline: Are we talking about report cards like in school, with actual grades on how plans are doing in different areas?

Zingale: We’re looking at various formats in use around the country.

Healthline: Industry and medical officials often complain that such efforts gloss over complexities in delivering care and penalize providers on the cutting edge of tertiary medicine. Are you getting cooperation from plans and providers?

Zingale: The early signs are that the managed health care plans will be very cooperative with the report card process and the medical survey process we are getting underway.

Healthline: There have been a number of reports lately about how poorly California fares both in the health status of its citizens and access to insurance. One way to close the insurance gap is California’s Healthy Families program for indigent children, but enrollment levels have been disappointing. It may be too early in your tenure to get into such details, or do you favor a removal of the ban on direct marketing by HMOs for Healthy Families clients?

Zingale: This governor has made remarkable progress in bringing more children into the Healthy Families program. At the same time, he has told me directly that he is not completely satisfied with the progress that has been made. He has asked me and others in the administration to look for ways to continue to expand access to coverage for California’s children. I take this charge seriously.

Healthline: You have a long association with Governor Davis and with Sacramento. I understand you were born and reared in Sacramento. Is it fun to be home?

Zingale: Very much so. I had strong personal reasons for wanting to come home. My parents are getting older and they live here. My five-year-old son needed to be closer to his grandparents.

Healthline: Good luck and enjoy your honeymoon period for as long as it lasts. Thank you for joining us.

Zingale: You’re welcome.

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