Kaiser Permanente Agrees to Patient Transfers
The 2,080 patients on Kaiser Permanente's kidney transplant waiting list in Northern California can transfer to the University of California-Davis Medical Center or the UC-San Francisco Medical Center for treatment under an agreement with state regulators, Kaiser officials said Wednesday, the San Jose Mercury News reports (Feder Ostrov, San Jose Mercury News, 5/11).
Problems found at the Kaiser kidney transplant center, which opened in 2004, have led to several investigations by state and federal agencies.
Mary Anne Thode, president of Kaiser Health Plan's Northern California region, said the transplant center will remain open.
However, Department of Managed Care Director Cindy Ehnes said the department will "provide a degree of oversight that is somewhat unusual."
As part of the oversight, Kaiser has begun contacting all patients on the waiting list to tell them that the company will pay for transplants at UCSF or UC-Davis. Thode said about 800 patients already have been contacted and two have decided to transfer (Vesely, Oakland Tribune, 5/11).
Ehnes said she will meet with UCSF and UC-Davis transplant officials to ensure patient transfers are conducted properly (Weber/Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 5/11).
In addition, Kaiser has begun an internal investigation and has selected three members of an external review panel. The state will name the fourth member. Investigations of the program will continue, and fines could be imposed on Kaiser (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/11).
If the findings of several investigations related to Kaiser's kidney transplant program "are as troublesome as the news reports, Kaiser has done a great disservice to some of its most vulnerable patients -- those who can't afford to wait while the nation's largest HMO gets its act together," a San Francisco Chronicle editorial states (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/11).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.