KAISER PERMANENTE: Ends Doctor-Pay Bonus
Kaiser Permanente has decided to end a decade-long practice of extending a pay bonus to physician-recruits who had been out of training for at least three years but no longer than 15 years. Beverly Hayon, director of national media relations, said the practice was instituted to help medical chiefs hire specialists in the 1980s and 1990s, a time when they were difficult to find. But now, when there is no longer a shortage, there is no need for the bonus, Hayon said.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Kaiser Permanente's practice was little-known until Charles Phillips, a Fresno, CA emergency room physician filed an age-discrimination complaint against the plan with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission office in Fresno. Phillips alleges that Kaiser Permanente's attorney said that "the value of experience in the medical profession generally declines after a certain period of time" as medicine is a fast-moving field and skills can become outdated. Hayon also defended the policy saying the "'salary enhancement' for new physicians has nothing to do with age," but "everything to do with the amount of time a particular physician may have been out of his or her original training." She added that the termination of the policy had "nothing to do with Dr. Phillip's complaint" (Gentry, 12/20).