Sacramento Bee Profiles Kaiser Permanente
The Sacramento Bee Monday profiled Oakland-based Kaiser Permanente, an HMO "committed to its decades-old system of providing coordinated care within its closed network of doctors and hospitals," even as the managed care industry "appears in the midst of a midlife crisis." Although many health plans have begun to offer "more flexible, choice-driven products," Kaiser has maintained a "rigid" system that allows the HMO to "closely monitor care and costs." The system has helped Kaiser to "garner more than a third" of the state's HMO market, the Bee reports. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals President Dale Crandall said, "Health care delivery is clearly evolving, and we will evolve with it. But I think it will move towards team-based care and more disease management, areas where our model already works well and can continue to evolve." He said that rather than "overhaul its HMO product," Kaiser plans to spend about $10 billion over the next five years to "upgrade" services and facilities. Kaiser has received "high marks" on national health plan quality surveys, but the Bee reports that the HMO "often gets more notice for its cost-containment strategies." Lehman Brothers analyst Josh Raskin said, "There will be people out there who don't like the Kaiser system, but Kaiser has become the gold standard of closed network products" (Rapaport, Sacramento Bee, 5/6).
In a related story, the Contra Costa Times on Sunday published an interview with new Kaiser Chair and CEO George Halvorson about his "goals for Kaiser and how he intends to approach the cost-containment issues." The interview is available online (Silber, Contra Costa Times, 5/5).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.