The chief executive of L.A. Care Health Plan, the nation's largest public managed care program, has been placed on a leave of absence because of concerns that he has a conflict of interest, officials said Monday.
Anthony Rodgers, 52, was placed on leave from his $242,000-a-year post last Friday when the board met to discuss concerns that Rodgers had recently married a staff member of Blue Cross, one of the health plans participating in L.A. Care, without properly notifying the board, L.A. Care officials said.
L.A. Care oversees managed care plans that serve 653,000 recipients of Medi-Cal and other health care aid in Los Angeles County.
Rodgers, of Pasadena, said he may end up having to leave the organization that he has led since its inception in 1995. His fate may be decided at a board of directors' meeting Feb. 15, he said.
Because L.A. Care is a quasi-public entity, conflict of interest disclosures must be made by its ranking executives, officials said.
Rodgers said he made no secret of his marriage, and added that his wife, Deborah, is not in a policy-setting position with Blue Cross. "She is a staffer there," he said.
Rodgers said he was surprised the board took the action it did against him. "I was surprised that with my track record that they would not consider . . . other options."
Several members of the governing board, including Mark Finucane, director of Los Angeles County's Department of Health Services, declined to comment Monday. Board Chairman Rodney Armstead could not be reached.
Some supporters of Rodgers say they are particularly worried about the board's action because he is a prominent African American health care leader who has been remarkably successful in his post. LA Care may show a $25-million surplus this year, Rodgers said Monday.
"He's being penalized because he got married," state Sen. Richard Polanco (D-Los Angeles) said. "Give me a break. He's a talented guy."
Polanco, who recently wrote to the L.A. Care board urging fairness for Rodgers, said late Monday that the conflict of interest assertion "was a bogus argument."
Before assuming the L.A. Care post, Rodgers served as director of the Maricopa Health System in Phoenix. There, he was responsible for managing a health care delivery system that included a 540-bed acute care teaching hospital and 13 primary care service centers.