Molina Healthcare hires new California plan president

Molina Healthcare has quietly named former Health Net executive John Kotal as president of its California health plan.

He replaced Deborah Miller, who had served as president of Molina Healthcare of California for the past three years and held other roles at the company before that.

A spokeswoman for the Long Beach, Calif.-based insurer declined to say when and why Miller left the company because Molina doesn’t comment on personnel matters. Molina is scheduled to report second-quarter 2019 financial results July 30.

The insurer’s California plan is one of its largest with 600,000 members at the end of the first quarter, second only to the Washington plan in terms of membership. The California plan brings in $2.2 billion in annual premium revenue, or about 12.2% of Molina’s total premium revenue. Molina operates plans in 14 states and Puerto Rico.

According to Molina, Kotal has served as the health insurer’s vice president of vendor management since 2018. Before that, he was a long-time executive at insurer Health Net, where he led claims operations, compliance and provider network and vendor management. Centene bought Health Net in March 2016 for $6 billion.

Miller was an executive at SCAN Health Plan for more than a decade before joining Molina. She’s known as an expert on programs that serve patients dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. These are some of the most complex and costly patients in the healthcare system.

For the past couple of years, Molina CEO Joseph Zubretsky, who was hired in 2017, has been overhauling the business model to increase profit margins. Molina has slashed medical and administrative costs by renegotiating provider contracts, laying off staff and streamlining its claims processes. In 2018, the company posted a yearly profit of $707 million, compared with a loss of $512 million the year before. But Molina lost Medicaid contracts in New Mexico and Florida last year, which weighed on its first-quarter 2019 financial results. California is slated to begin procurement of new Medi-Cal contracts in 2020.

Molina has also changed up its executive leadership amid the company overhaul. Last year, it named Thomas Tran chief financial officer; Tran previously served as CFO at WellCare Health Plans. Also in 2018, Molina hired James Woys, another long-term Health Net executive, as executive vice president of health plan services.