Kaiser Permanente Notices Adequate, Regulators Say
Kaiser Permanente did not mislead about 18,000 members in the Coachella Valley about an upcoming transfer from outside doctors to Kaiser staff physicians, regulators from the Department of Managed Health Care determined, the Los Angeles Times reports (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 6/14).
Desert Medical Group and the Oasis Independent Physicians Association Medical Group -- the physicians groups that handle contracts for non-Kaiser doctors -- said Kaiser as recently as April displayed lists at several companies' open-enrollment events that included names of doctors the HMO knew would not be participating in the plan after June 30.
The groups alleged that Kaiser's marketing practices misled members into believing they could continue seeing their current primary care physicians after new clinics open (California Healthline, 6/1).
However, regulators did not find notices to patients about the transfer "to be confusing or inadequate," according to DMHC Chief of Enforcement Amy Dobberteen.
DMHC spokesperson Lynne Randolph said Kaiser tried to reach an agreement to allow HMO members to continue seeing outside doctors until the end of the year or until patients could change insurers, but the offer was rejected by the doctors.
Marc Hoffing, medical director of the groups, said payments offered by Kaiser under the deal were "not something that was in the realm of possibility."
The patient transfers will continue as planned on July 1 (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 6/14).