Central Health OKs $26M for Sendero
But the program must meet certain conditions to receive the funding.
Shortly after rescinding its decision to shut down its nonprofit health insurance provider, Central Health’s board voted Saturday to allocate $26 million for Sendero Health Plans and keep the program in operation for at least one more year.
But it must meet certain conditions to receive the funding, which include strict reporting with explicit outcome measures and objectives provided to Central Health each month, and capping future Central Health financial risk to include only premium assistance for Sendero.
Saturday’s vote reversed the board’s Sept. 12 decision to start winding down the program, which provides its IdealCare plan through the Affordable Care Act and benefits about 24,000 low-income Travis County residents. The decision was based largely on Sendero’s financial problems; the program has reported losses year after year since it was created in 2011.
Travis County commissioners were set to approve Central Health’s $258 million budget for fiscal 2019 on Sept. 18, but many Sendero members testified and expressed their dismay at the possibility of losing their health coverage. Commissioners delayed the budget vote to give Central Health a chance to reconsider funding.
Central Health held a special board meeting Saturday to rethink Sendero’s future and hear from community members. About 50 people attended the meeting, and more than 30 spoke before the board. Most spoke in favor of saving Sendero.
“I am so grateful to this board for giving this topic so much thought and consideration, and for all of the community members we’ve heard from ... who are so passionate about Sendero,” said Dr. Guadalupe Zamora, the chair of Central Health’s board. “We heard your passion. We share your passion. And like you, each of my fellow board members is committed to making sure everyone in our community has access to quality health care. I believe Sendero can do this.”
No later than June, the board must be presented with a third-party financial projection for either a potential wind-down process or the continuation of the nonprofit.
Central Health has invested $108 million in Sendero since 2011, and the program has delivered more than $470 million in health coverage to 135,000 people. While the Central Health board makes a funding decision every year about the health insurance provider, Sendero’s board of directors is responsible for decisions about its operations and future.
Sendero’s board is expected to meet this week. Travis County’s Commissioners Court is expected to vote Tuesday on Central Health’s budget, including funding for Sendero.
People attend a hearing on Sendero Health Plans on Saturday. The program benefits about 24,000 Travis County residents.