HEALTH PLANS: And just in case the pro-Kaiser bias is getting out of hand

Now that we’ve let Pat Salber be so nice to Kaiser, Gadlfy reminds me about a couple of things.

First a lost laptop apparently filched out of Oakland HQ with a mere 160,000 patients’ details on it. They were fined $200K by Dept of Managed Care for putting 150 names on the Internet, so proportionally this one should come in around the gross national product of Belgium!

And then much more dirt about the kidney transplant disaster–including the reason that the story broke. The whistleblower went to the press and the authorities including the LA Times. It was the LA Times series on Kaiser’s kidney transplant program that made the brown stuff hit the whirling metal thing. And what’s worse is that they still have not have had the no-holds barred public enquiry that they ought to allow and that I called for when it happened—mostly (according to Chris Rauber in the SF Business Times) apparently out of fear that it’ll upset the Permanente Group.

I half expect several commenters to (again) question how Robbie Pearl’s father really died. But the point is that the EMR KP is introducing is capable of massively improving care quality. But it’s a necessary but not sufficient condition.

Meanwhile, there are also allegations that the non-profit guys (Blue Shield and Kaiser) are joining the real schlockmeister behavior of retroactively cancelling patient policies—the ones that Wellpoint’s Blue Cross unit is in hot water for doing. No examples about KP, although there is one for Blue Shield, who’s underwriting is pretty tough these days.

So as everything in health care, there are two sides to the story. It would be very nice if KP made more of an effort to be open about this–I still think a full external inquiry into the Kidney transplant fiasco would be much better for them (and for health care as a whole) than us all having to read the tea-leaves via the unfair dismisall case….but the politics of KP as a whole are very delicate and I understand why they won’t do it. I don’t agree with that policy but I understand its genesis

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  1. Matthew:
    You really should stop referring to KP as one of the “non-profit guys”.
    Kaiser may be quasi-non-profit, but The Permanente Medical Group most definitely is not. Half of all that KP does not spend on patient care is split with TPG at year end to go into the doctors’ personal pension plans. The CEOs of Kaiser and Permanente have adjacent offices, the boards of directors are liberally cross-linked, etc.
    The main point is that the doctors at KP benefit financially from delaying and/or denying referrals, procedures, and any medical care beyond broccoli.