Kaiser Permanente Decision To Pay $1 Million Fine ‘Acknowledges’ DMHC Role, Editorial States
A decision by Kaiser Permanente last week to pay a $1 million fine for alleged "fatal lapses" in the treatment of an HMO patient "acknowledges that the Department of Managed Health Care has the authority to oversee the quality of medical care and discipline HMOs for substandard performance," according to a Bakersfield Californian editorial (Bakersfield Californian, 11/19). DMHC imposed the $1 million fine, the largest that the department has issued against an HMO, as a result of the 1996 death of Margaret Utterback, who died from a stomach aneurysm in Kaiser's Hayward hospital after she made a number of efforts to visit her physician about back and abdominal pain on the day of her death. Kaiser had fought the fine in court but decided to pay to fine to avoid future litigation with the state (California Healthline, 11/18). The agreement to pay the fine "signifies that the department's charter to enforce patient rights is now accepted" by the HMO industry, the editorial states. The editorial concludes, "Its acceptance by the industry, especially if it continues to display the determination to enforce its mandates, means better care for Californians" (Bakersfield Californian, 11/19).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.