State Expands Kaiser Investigation
The investigation into Kaiser Permanente's complaint-handling procedures for its kidney-transplant unit has been expanded to cover the entire Kaiser system in California, a state official said, the San Francisco Business Times reports.
The Department of Managed Health Care's investigation broadened when regulators found that the problems at the kidney unit were part of larger issues regarding quality-of-care and customer service, according to Denise Schmidt, a DMHC spokesperson.
The department will determine whether Kaiser is in compliance with the state's Knox-Keene Act regulating managed-care plans. The investigation is considering whether Kaiser Foundation Health Plan exercised adequate oversight of quality of care at its medical centers and by its medical groups.
Matthew Schiffgens, senior issues management director for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, declined to comment on the expanded investigation but said that Kaiser is "working with the department in a collaborative manner."
The investigation is expected to finish in the first quarter of 2007, possibly as early as January, Schmidt said.
Kaiser officials said that there have been recent revisions to the customer-service process. The HMO is adding a data system that will create detailed complaint reports for medical center and regional leaders. An employee training department and two complaint resolution centers will open.
In addition, Kaiser has tasked one staff member in both its Northern and Southern California units to oversee complaints and grievances, rather than addressing such issues at the medical center level (Rauber, San Francisco Business Times, 11/10).