KAISER PERMANENTE: Will Close ER Without State Approval
Kaiser Permanente says it will go ahead with its plan to close its Martinez emergency room and hospital today, even though the company did "not have approval" from the state Department of Corporations as of late Friday, the Contra Costa Times reports (Appleby, 1/24). Martinez spokesperson Mary Jane Watt said she expected a "go-ahead" today from the DOC okaying the closure of the Martinez emergency room and the shifting of those services to the Walnut Creek hospital and Mount Diablo Medical Center in Concord, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (1/24).
A Fine Time
Kaiser's restructuring of its Martinez hospital into a "minor" illness and injury center could place it "in jeopardy of stiff fines under the state law regulating health plans," say department lawyers. "We can't force them to stay open. But if they close without approval, they can expect repercussions," said department senior counsel Peter Kezirian. Kaiser maintains that "the corporations department does not have jurisdiction over hospital facilities." Kaiser director of regulatory compliance Joe Macaluso said, "The DOC regulates health plans, not the other entities that are part of Kaiser." DOC senior attorney Anita Ostroff responded, "We have no jurisdiction over whether they open or close a hospital. What we do have jurisdiction over is to make sure they have a delivery system that provides access to hospital and emergency services." Ostroff also said Kaiser still needed to supply her department with "additional issues and information" in order for them to reach a decision. The Contra Costa Times reports that lawyers for the DOC would not say if it would "definitely seek penalties" or what "the amount of potential fines" would be (1/24).