KAISER OAKLAND: Home Hospice System Faces Funding Loss
Hampered by "deplorable" patient records, Kaiser Oakland's home hospice program may lose critical Medicare funding needed to provide care for hundreds of terminally ill patients, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. State investigators last week recommended that HCFA deny Kaiser's $700,000 annual Medicare reimbursement, citing patient care violations that led to misdiagnoses and delays in delivering medication. In February, Kaiser faced similar problems, coming under fire after a state investigation found "numerous deficiencies" that placed patients' "health and safety in immediate jeopardy." Although Kaiser corrected most of the violations, a recent surprise inspection by state investigators revealed that the hospice program still "had not provided adequate services." The Department of Health Services then made the "unusual" recommendation to strip Kaiser of its Medicare funding. Kaiser officials called the action premature. "We started a 90-day plan of correction in mid-April, and we're still working hard on that plan," Bettie Coles, senior vice president for Kaiser's East Bay service area, said. According to state investigators, Kaiser failed to ensure that after-hours advice nurses at the Walnut Creek telephone center had necessary patient information to make "informed decisions about patient care," breaching a federal requirement. The HCFA office in San Francisco will review the case and make a decision this week, Stan Marcisz, the agency's director of long term care, said. He added that HCFA follows the state's recommendations "nine out of 10 times." However, according to Wayne Moon, HCFA's director of hospital and community care operations, Kaiser will "probably get a reprieve" (Wells, 6/10).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.