Kaiser, State To Announce Kidney Program Reforms
Kaiser Permanente and the Department of Managed Health Care on Wednesday will announce a plan to address problems at Kaiser's kidney transplant program in Northern California that includes paying for transplants at other institutions, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Under the agreement, Kaiser will "end up being financially responsible for transplants that are received in other institutions," according to Department of Managed Health Care Director Cindy Ehnes.
The agreement will allow at least 1,200 Kaiser members to return to the University of California-Davis and UC-San Francisco medical centers for transplants. Kaiser previously contracted with the hospitals for kidney transplants, and these patients had been on transplant waiting lists at UC-Davis and UCSF.
It is unclear whether patients who have been added to Kaiser's waiting list more recently will be allowed to seek outside care (Ornstein/Weber, Los Angeles Times, 5/10).
Kaiser spokesperson Rick Malaspina said that the company's transplant center will remain in operation and that patient requests to have transplants at other centers will be considered on a case-by-case basis (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/10). Malaspina said patients would have to consult with Kaiser doctors before leaving the Kaiser transplant program (Feder Ostrov, San Jose Mercury News, 5/10).
DMHC will take action if patients feel that Kaiser is not appropriately addressing their requests for transfers, Ehnes said.
DMHC also will oversee an independent panel of experts that Kaiser has said it will convene to review the program and make recommendations.
According to Ehnes, the department's review of the kidney program has found additional problems, such as Kaiser's failure to receive approval from the department before opening the new center and transferring patients.
DMHC also will coordinate its investigation with regulators from the Department of Health Services and CMS (Los Angeles Times, 5/10). Kaiser could face fines, penalties or additional regulatory mandates if investigators find Kaiser acted inappropriately (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/10).