Purchase of California clinics gives ex-Molina CEO a way to ‘fulfill the mission that my father started’

J. Mario Molina, M.D., is no longer the CEO of Molina Healthcare, but he’s determined to keep his father’s legacy alive in a different way.

Since his former employer is getting out of the business of running clinics, Molina is exercising his right to purchase the assets of 17 of those clinics that are based in California, he told FierceHealthcare in an interview. 

J. Mario Molina

Molina Healthcare said in a statement that it is unable to comment on ongoing negotiations. “Molina is redesigning the way we directly deliver care to our members to take advantage of more efficient care delivery channels,” the company said.

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To J. Mario Molina, the move simply makes sense.

“The nice thing about this is, it gets the company out of the clinic business, which is what they want, but it preserves continuity of care for the members, which I think they also want and I certainly want,” he said.

The clinics, currently run by Molina Medical Group, serve 120,000 patients and are being rebranded as Golden Shore Medical Group so that they can contract with other health plans in addition to Molina Healthcare.

The doctors employed by the clinic, Molina added, already work for him and have deep ties to the community—some have served for three generations.

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Molina said that the transfer of the clinics won’t have much of a business impact on Molina Healthcare, as they represent just a small part of the insurer's overall business.

But it is significant for Molina personally. He and his brother, then-CFO John Molina, were both ousted from their roles in May, a move that Molina Healthcare’s board attributed to “the company’s disappointing financial performance.” 

Molina has suggested that his political views may have also played a part in the decision.

“I’ve been a very vocal critic of what’s going on in Washington,” Molina told Politico at the time. “I know the other health plan executives have been afraid to speak out. Maybe they’re smarter than I am, but I’m not going to back off.”

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By returning to the provider side of healthcare, the elder Molina is coming full circle—taking a similar role to the one he held when he began working for his father as medical director for community clinics in the early 1990s. 

“It gives me the opportunity, I think, to fulfill the mission that my father started, which is to provide access to patients who were cared for through the Medi-Cal program” who often had difficulty finding a doctor, he said.

Furthering that mission, all of the clinics are in areas where there are low-income populations and are certified by the National Committee for Quality Assurance as patient-centered medical homes.

The clinics also aim to integrate care by offering behavioral health services in addition to physical health services—which Molina said can help lower costs and make care delivery more efficient.

“We really want the people in these communities to feel like this is their medical home,” Molina said. “This is where they can go, and somebody there is going to know them as a person. And if they have medical problems or other kinds of problems—and let’s face it, if you’re poor in this country, life is stressful—we want to be there to help.”