HMO choices sought for Ojai
by Bret Bradigan
Signatures of Ojai's seniors will soon be sought for a petition
calling for more choices in health maintenance organization providers.
With escalating prescription costs and lowered reimbursements,
lack of HMO choice is hitting home for local Medicare recipients.
This was the focus of an April 3 meeting seeking to expand the
Medicare Plus Choice providers in Ojai.
Currently, Ojai's senior citizens have only Secure Horizons available.
Kaiser Permanente serves all of Ventura County, except for zip
"All we're asking is that the number of options be expanded,"
said Nita Whaley, one of the organizers of this effort.
The goal, said Whaley, is 2,000 signatures within 30 days.
Katharine Raley, Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program
manager for Ventura County, will present those petitions to Kaiser
Permanente and to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
"Seniors need to have the opportunity to participate in
any available plan" she said. "Ojai's been omitted
Even with the active effort to bring more choice in HMO plans
to Ojai, "It's not going to be a short process," said
Raley. Should Kaiser or others add Ojai to their coverage areas,
those plans won't be available until 2003.
She said that Kaiser's exclusion of Ojai was mystifying, and
that, if nothing else, this petition push will get some clarification.
"I think it's a fluke," she said.
Petition signing stands will be set up at Starr Market and Vons
on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Volunteers are needed to
help, and local businesses are being asked to post petitions.
This effort is assisted by HELP of Ojai. For more information
or to join in, call 649-1294.
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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