Under state scrutiny, Citrus Health Care stops marketing

October 2nd, 2008

Florida Health News--October 1, 2008

 By Christine Giordano

Even as MD Medicare Choice was collapsing this week, another Tampa-based Medicare plan that has been under state scrutiny over its finances stopped writing new business.  Citrus Health Care, which has 41,000 members in Tampa Bay and the Orlando areas, intends to resolve its issues with the state and be "full-steam-ahead very shortly," an attorney for the company said.
Citrus’ marketing operations were placed on temporary hold at the request of regulatory agencies, said Citrus’ attorney, Robert Harding of Orlando’s Railey and Harding. He declined to comment on the reasons.

Documents from the Office of Insurance Regulation show that the company is under a corrective action plan to improve its finances.

Under Florida law, health insurers have to maintain at least a 2-percent margin to show they are financially stable. At the end of 2007, Citrus Health Care filed a loss of $335,000. However, the company’s filing for the second quarter, which ended June 30, showed revenue of $109,000.

Harding said these ups and downs are normal. “We’re resolving some of the issues with them, and we anticipate to be back on and full-steam-ahead with our marketing very shortly,” he said.

The company’s corrective action plan submitted to OIR says Citrus had high costs in its special needs program, which accounted for about 80 percent of its Medicare members in 2007. Spending was also necessary to build its administration to support future growth, according to the March 31 document.

Citrus’ action plan told OIR it had reduced its percentage of special-needs Medicare members to 50 percent as of March and would use disease management techniques to reduce medical costs. The company planned to target new markets, Medicaid and commercial business; cut marketing expenses; encourage use of generic medicines rather than brand names; and work with hospitals and doctors to reduce costs.

Other efforts mentioned in the plan included the parent company, CEF Holdings, launching One Source Pharmacy to give discounts on prescription drugs to Citrus members and seeking Medicaid approval to expand into Lake, Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties.

“We are in good shape, and there won’t be an issue. We’re about to resolve those issues with the regulatory agencies,” Harding said.

See Florida Health News' account of the state takeover of MD Medicare Choice, which occurred just before midnight Tuesday. Choice.