Kaiser To Pay Record Fine
Kaiser Permanente will pay a $2 million fine as part of a consent decree that specifies corrective actions the insurer must take to address problems at its Northern California kidney transplant program, according to sources familiar with the agreement, the Los Angeles Times reports (Ornstein/Weber, Los Angeles Times, 8/10).
The Department of Managed Health Care on Thursday is expected to announce details of the disciplinary action. The fine is the largest ever levied against an HMO by the department (Griffith, Sacramento Bee, 8/10).
Kaiser announced in May that it will close its kidney transplant center. Several news reports alleged program mismanagement that compromised patient care (California Healthline, 8/4).
The consent decree will require Kaiser to contribute an additional $3 million to outreach programs that encourage organ donation. Kaiser also will be required to change some of its practices under the supervision of state regulators.
A Kaiser spokesperson said the insurer would not comment on the agreement until after it is announced (Los Angeles Times, 8/10).
As of Tuesday, 295 patients from the Kaiser kidney transplant program had been transferred to programs at the University of California-Davis or UC-San Francisco medical centers. Kaiser officials and state regulators originally thought that transferring the HMO's 2,000 patients awaiting kidneys would take several weeks. However, the transfers are taking longer than expected and officials expect the transfers will not be completed until the end of the year (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/10).