CMS Could Cut Funds to Kaiser Kidney Program
Kaiser Permanente must make improvements to its Northern California kidney transplant program by June 15 or it could lose federal Medicare funding for Medicare patients being treated for kidney problems, according to a CMS letter the HMO received Wednesday, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/8).
The HMO in May announced that it will close the program following reports of alleged problems that led to transplant delays. About 2,000 patients will be transferred to transplant programs at the University of California-Davis and UC-San Francisco medical centers from the Kaiser transplant program, which opened in 2004 (California Healthline, 6/7).
If deficiencies at the program are not corrected, Kaiser could lose federal funding for all Medicare patients with end-stage renal disease at its San Francisco hospital. The HMO can seek an extension to the June 15 deadline (Ornstein/Weber, Los Angeles Times, 6/8).
CMS cited three areas in which Kaiser was not in compliance with federal rules:
- Governing body and management;
- Patients' rights and responsibilities; and
- Director of a renal transplant center.
A Kaiser spokesperson on Wednesday said the HMO would not appeal the findings of the federal investigation and is cooperating with state and federal regulators (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/8).
The Department of Managed Health Care and the United Network for Organ Sharing, the agency that contracts with the federal government to oversee transplant programs, also are investigating the Kaiser program. Kaiser is conducting an internal investigation (Los Angeles Times, 6/8). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.