QCA Executive Steps Down

Owners of one of the state's fastest growing health maintenance organization are moving to find a new chief executive after an interim boss returned to his former job.

John Glassford, who had served as interim chief executive officer for QCA Health Plan Inc., left recently to return to his post at Tenet Health Systems. Tenet is a part-owner of QCA, along with QualChoice of Arkansas Inc. and California-based Zenith National Insurance Co.

Glassford replaced former CEO Jim Stewart on Aug. 13.

Bob Sells of Sells/Clark, the public relations firm representing QCA, says the HMO's owners are searching for a new CEO. Glassford's decision to leave is unrelated to the continued decline in income by QCA, Sells says.

According to filings with the Arkansas Insurance Department, QCA lost $1.2 million in 1997, $5.7 million in 1998, and $3.8 million through June 1999. Meanwhile, the company has seen its enrollment jump after it was the low bidder in 1998 for Arkansas' state and public employee HMO contracts and the sole choice for the combined groups' point-of-service plan.

Two years ago, QCA had only 1,000 members. In 1998, more than 26,000 members were added, bringing total enrollment to about 33,000.

Sells says the loss of income at QCA is not an isolated incident, but a nationwide trend. The rising cost of health care services and consumer demand are countering attempts by HMOs to cut costs.

"Very few of the larger HMOs are making money," Sells says.