KAISER PERMANENTE: Clarifies Position on California Healthline Story
The following response to a California Healthline story published Aug. 26 was submitted by Kaiser Permanente on Sept. 28:
"Kaiser Permanente would like to clarify what it perceives as a basic misunderstanding reflected in the August 26th article, 'HMO Accountability: A Mother's Fight' and in much of the current reporting on pending health care legislation. No one would dispute that Dorothy Cancilla has experienced tragedy. Her daughter, Jenny Gugliello, faced a long, ultimately losing battle, against the ravages of disease. And we can also understand Ms. Cancilla's anguish, even bitterness, toward the medical establishment following her daughter's death. But Ms. Cancilla's story should not be used to bolster the arguments in favor of lawsuits against HMOs. The rationale for most of the proposed legislation starts with the HMO denying treatment ordered by a doctor. That did not happen in this case. The doctors at Kaiser Permanente faced no interference from insurance administrators as they fought to save the life of Jenny Gugliello. She succumbed to her illness despite their valiant efforts. There was litigation in this case, which raised questions about some of the medical judgements that were made -- questions raised frequently in medical malpractice lawsuits. It's clear that family members who question medical judgements do not need a new law to bring a malpractice lawsuit. They already have that right and they use it. We know that's not enough to bring solace to Ms. Cancilla, but we also know that this unfortunate outcome did not happen as the result of an HMO decision. Decisions about medical treatment must not be made by lawyers or legislators or insurance administrators. Those decisions must remain in the hands of doctors."