FAIRFIELD — In a time where most industries were downsizing and laying off employees, Partnership HealthPlan saw growth while providing service to more clients.
That continues today as Partnership HealthPlan is preparing to move into the old Copart building later this month, which may not be able to house the additional 200 employees needed to serve the planned expansion in the next few years.
Partnership HealthPlan has served Solano County since 1994, and now specializes in administering Medi-Cal and Medicare to seniors, the disabled and low-income families. Since then, several new programs at the local, state and federal level have been added.
They soon expanded to Napa and Yolo counties. Then came Sonoma, Marin and Mendocino counties. The nonprofit is now eying rural counties in northeastern California, with a possible satellite office in Redding.
“It’s important for us to stay connected to the communities we serve,” said CEO Jack Horn. “We have told the state we will take seven more counties.”
The partnership in this case was between Solano County, NorthBay Healthcare, Sutter Medical Group and Kaiser Permanante. Horn said that core along with other members formed a coalition in the late 1980s, Solano Coalition for Better Health, to help come up with ways to address the problem of providing care to a growing group of the uninsured. The board of directors consists of 25 community members from various fields.
Created by the Board of Supervisors, the group technically works for the state in administering its services. With the recent expansions, it serves nearly 200,000 people. In 2011, more than 62,000 Solano County residents used Partnership HealthPlan to access Medi-Cal benefits.
Supervisor Mike Reagan had nothing but compliments about the service provided.
“Back when Obama was first elected and they were talking about health care reform, we were pitching they use Partnership HealthPlan as the model,” Reagan said. “It’s the theory that works. It’s been one of the real success stories in the county. People are just starting to figure out that we’ve been a leader in this.”
Patients who qualify for the services through the county and state are sent a letter that instructs them to pick a local provider. They pay a premium for the services, but aren’t charged a co-pay at the offices. Many of those seen would normally visit local emergency rooms, which are forced by law to accept them.
“We save the state money. We pay providers more and give more service,” Horn said. “We do that by getting better access.”
Horn said focusing on patient ailments and creating a plan for them to become healthier has led to reduced medical provider costs. A great deal of attention is spent on customer service for patients, Horn said, where call centers can receive up to 1,000 calls a day. Horn said employee morale is also paramount. He said by keeping staff members happy and informed, their customer service also improves. He said he routinely surveys his employees and said he takes the suggestions from them seriously.
“You can’t run an affective service business without happy employees,” he said.
In a field that serve low-income people, the last few years have seen even more business. Horn said they’ve doubled service in the past year. Many of the new clients are those who have never used public assistance or aid in the past.
That, along with the new counties, has forced the need for a new home. When the Copart building became vacant, a move to the Business Center Drive location was planned.
The number of employees is expected to grow from 300 to 500 in coming years and the former Copart building may not be able to house them all, Horn said.
“We’re proud to be a growth industry,” he said. “We’re glad in some way to be a job creator to offset Copart leaving.”
Other areas of service now include Healthy Kids, Healthy Families and Partnership Advantage, which serves those on both Medi-Cal and Medicare. Part of that program helps provide eyeglasses and dental care, along with transportation to those appointments.
“What’s the point of the world’s greatest health care when you can’t get to it,” said Dave McCallum, Partnership HealthPlan community relations manager. “These are the things we are really proud of.”
Reach Danny Bernardini at 427-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dbernardinidr.