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HEALTH PLANS/TECH: Looks like the Deal’s over–or is it?

So it looks like from Justen Deal’s website that he’s essentially going to be fired in absentia by Kaiser. My assumption is that he knew this was going to happen all along, and was essentially preparing the way for some kind of entry into politics and/or law career. Kaiser too seems to yet again be getting unnecessarily gummed up about the whole thing—for example according to Deal having people from the insurer side handle the case, rather than from the medical group which he works for.

I don’t know much about employment law, but I do know that California is an “at-will” state, which means that you can fire anyone for basically any reason. It’s obvious from Halvorson’s reaction, let alone the exasperated comments from Permanente’s Andy Wiesenthal on THCB, that they had no further interest in communicating with Deal after he went public, and didn’t want him around. So I don’t see why that didn’t happen straight away. Making up a (fake?) policy about “not abusing the email system” is basically a waste of time.

Deal seems to be appealing to a base of supporters within KP in order to “right” the ship. But if there really is malfeasance and/or an Enron-type meltdown going on within KP over HealthConnect–as opposed to normal teething problems from a huge IT installation (which as you know I suspect to be very, very unlikely) –the best route would be to go to those people who do oversee non-profits. That is regulators and the politicians who supervise them.

Given the various issues that Kaiser is having with the State DMHC over other aspects of its behavior , I suspect that Deal must be involved in some protracted discussions with local politicians. After all if there really is financial mismanagement going within KP, then Chuck Grassley is interested in this type of thing, as is Pete Stark.

If on the other hand, Deal is not pursuing those options, then I’m a little curious as to what this whole thing has been about. As an appeal to the massed ranks of KP employees about HealthConnect might seem appropriate if it was a worker’s collective, but it’s hardly likely to sway the board. Unless of course there’s something going on in the works that we can’t see.

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SBD
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SBD

Continuing Education of the Bar — California In California, employment is presumed to be “at will,” that is, either party may terminate the employment relationship for any reason. Lab C §2922. Among the exceptions to an employer’s right to terminate or discipline at will is when it would violate a public policy. Pugh v See’s Candies, Inc. (1981) 116 CA3d 311, 171 CR 917. Public policy in California limits the right to terminate or discipline at will because the threat of termination or discipline could be used to coerce employees into committing crimes, concealing wrongdoing, or taking other action harmful… Read more »

neimon
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neimon

Anyone who embarks on a technology project for political purposes – for the appearance of doing something, for instance – will fail. Period.
In this case, the victory lap WAS the deliverable. The technology was something they crossed their fingers on.
Same as it ever was.

Skeptic
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Skeptic

I agree with Matt—the implementation problems and cost-overruns associated with HealthConnect that were described by Mr. Deal are certainly not unusual for a large-scale, state-of-the art IT system. On the other hand, it mystifies me why Dr. Wiesenthal and other Kaiser execs have been running around the U.S. (including testimony before a Congressional committee) for the past 2 years declaring HealthConnect a raging success before it has been fully implemented at most Kaiser medical centers and before data has been collected for a rigorous post-implementation evaluation of the system. I understand KP’s desire to get credit for its ambitious IT… Read more »

neimon
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neimon

There is always a point in the search for attention where the thing we were trying get the attention for gets buried by speculation as to why we want the attention. I don’t know if Mr. Deal’s suppositions and conclusions were right in the first place. So far, all we have is his “one and one make more than one and less than three” argument, which is good, but not really proof. Now the attention is on how KP dealt with him and what it means and whether it’s some kind of coverup/conspiracy. It means he pissed off the wrong… Read more »

elliotg
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elliotg

California is an employ-at-will state Matthew, but there are some exceptions to that for a variety of things including implied contract (very hard to prove) and whistleblowing. On top of this, Kaiser is a wierd conglomeration of non-profit and for-profit. The whole business of KFHP conducting the review is unusual and might figure into a lawsuit as well. I think it hurts Deal that he was on the for-profit side of things or he might have a better lawsuit even if the termination might have happened more quickly. I think there are sound business reasons (both PR and HR) that… Read more »

Gadfly
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I don’t know who Justen having discussions with in the political sphere, but the big problem in the past is that those entities do NOTHING unless there is some media stir or public outcry. They will leave a baby dying in its cradle if there’s no chance for a photo op and they think no one else will notice. Therefore, if Justen wants them to light a fire under the politicos, then the only way to do it (other than bringing about a big campaign donation) is to appeal to the public at the same time. He seems to be… Read more »