Kaiser Permanente Says It Could Not Cover Most Medicare+Choice Beneficiaries from Health Plan of the Redwoods
If Health Plan of the Redwoods withdraws from the Medicare+Choice program as part of its bankruptcy reorganization, Kaiser Permanente could absorb only a "small number" of beneficiaries, Kaiser officials said yesterday (Rose, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 7/3). Faced with an $8 million budget deficit since Jan. 1, HPR filed for federal Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 31. As part of its reorganization, HPR is asking the bankruptcy court to release it from its Medicare+Choice contract if the federal government does not increase reimbursements (California Healthline, 6/5). U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Alan Jaroslovsky has scheduled a July 12 hearing to consider HPR's request to end its participation in Medicare+Choice; the health plan also may legally exit the program without the court's consent at the end of the year.
At federal officials' request, Kaiser examined how many HPR beneficiaries it could enroll in its Medicare HMO, Senior Advantage. Kaiser officials determined the company can absorb only 600 individuals because of staffing and space constraints in the HMO's facilities. "There will be somewhere around 11,000 patients out there looking for a new HMO, and we will only be able to take some of them," Dr. Bob Schultz, medical director of Kaiser's Santa Rosa and Petaluma facilities, said. "When we have more physicians and more space, we would be happy to take on more members," he added. The Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program, a not-for-profit organization that advises Medicare beneficiaries, is holding seminars in the Sonoma County region to answer beneficiaries' questions about Medicare coverage. Julie Bennett, an outreach coordinator for the agency, said, "Our advice right now is that if Medicare [beneficiaries] are serious about Kaiser, they should switch immediately" (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 7/3).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.