KPC Proposes to Consolidate All Patient Medical Records, Destroy Those Left Unclaimed
The bankrupt KPC Medical Management has proposed a plan to consolidate all of the patient records that remained "after its network of medical clinics folded last fall" and allow patients to request the information for a "modest fee" until next June, at which point all remaining records would be destroyed, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports. Since its closure in November, KPC has forwarded the records of 15,000 of its 250,000 Southern California patients to their new providers, leaving the remainder "in limbo without the results of pending tests or years of medical records." The company now estimates that it "must distribute or dispose of nearly 12 million patient files" that it accumulated over 20 years of consolidating various medical clinics. Since November, six health plans have paid more than $3 million to recover the records of HMO patients who used KPC clinics and have hired a company to attempt to consolidate them at one location, but the "records remain scattered," due partly to KPC's disorganization before and after the bankruptcy. Franklin Stevens, who was appointed by a bankruptcy court in March to run the company after the judge stripped KPC owner Dr. Kali Chaudhuri of "day-to-day control," said that the new plan to "consolidate, catalog and eventually dispose of the records" would cost $2.7 million, adding, "The challenge is going to be getting the funding." Stevens is currently in talks with the health plans that contracted with KPC and the Department of Managed Health Care about paying for the plan. In a report submitted to the bankruptcy court, Stevens said that if an agreement can't be reached, he "will ask the court to decide the matter."
The Press-Enterprise reports that the problem surrounding KPC's records "highlights a gap" in California's oversight of medical groups, because "the law doesn't spell out who should pay to have records forwarded to a patients' new doctor" in cases of bankruptcy or closure. Some lawmakers believe that health plans should be required by law to pay for record transfers. "It's a terrible situation when a medical group goes bankrupt and there's no good answer," Assembly member Keith Richman (R-Northridge), said, adding, "But health plans are [the only] entity that can facilitate and pay for the transfer of records." Bobby Pena, spokesperson for the California Association of Health Plans, said that such a law was not necessary because KPC's problems "are unusual and not likely to be repeated" (Beeman, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 6/19).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.