gua: CHOICES has new full-time director

Published: Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 3:36 p.m.

Alachua County's CHOICES health services program has a new full-time director whose goal is to spread the word of the program in order to boost its enrollment.

Robert Bailey, 61, started with the county Monday after working about three years in Gainesville as the director of hospital contracting for AvMed. His annual salary is $66,146.

In the short term, Bailey said his goal is to find the most effective way to market and advertise the CHOICES program, which allows the working uninsured affordable access to health care services such as primary care doctors and dental care.

When the quarter-cent sales tax to fund CHOICES was narrowly approved in the August 2004 primary election, projections were that 14,000 working uninsured in the county would be eligible for the program.

While growing, the program's enrollment now sits at approximately 2,600 - well below the initial expectation.

Besides increasing enrollment, Bailey said he also wants to identify additional partnerships and initiatives that could qualify for funding as "innovative" programs intended to provide affordable health services. He said he wants something to follow on the heels of the county's recent partnership with the University of Florida to fund a mobile health clinic with CHOICES money.

More long term, Bailey said the question will be what impact the recent federal health care overhaul, which mandates health insurance coverage, will have on a program intended to help the working uninsured.

What effect does he expect?

"In the short-term, not much," Bailey said. "It's going to be some time, years, before most of the changes take effect."

Before coming to Gainesville, Bailey worked for 22 years with Humana Inc. establishing hospital networks in 50 metropolitan areas and serving as the chief executive officer of three hospitals, according to information from Alachua County.

He said he also worked in behavioral care management for Medicaid recipients in the Philadelphia area.

In a news release, Lanard Perry, assistant director of Alachua County Community Support Services, said the county was "fortunate" to hire someone with Bailey's broad experience in the health care industry.

Alachua County has been without a full-time CHOICES director since last November, when former Director Lorraine Austin resigned to move out of state.

Christopher Curry is a Gainesville Sun staff writer.

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