As a result of the work done by reporters Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber, the California Department of Managed Health Care has intervened to demand that Kaiser pay for transplants at established hospitals if its patients elect to transfer to other programs. “Let me put it this way, [Kaiser] will do what the patients want them to do,” Cindy Ehnes, director of the department told the LA Times.
Yesterday, Kaiser made a public apology and confirmed that it has agreed to the terms described by Ehnes.
Kaiser is not out of the woods yet. Two patients and the widow of a third have filed suit against the HMO as a result of botched paperwork and unnecessary delays that harmed treatment. In all, the treatment of up to 1,500 patients suffered due to Kaiser’s forcing them out of established hospitals, denying kidney transplants that were available at other institutions, or botching paperwork so patients were stuck in limbo between programs.
The LA Times points out in an editorial that more oversight is still needed, and that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services could go a long way towards getting that done.
In the mean time, however, here’s to the great work done by two sharp reporters and a regulatory agency with teeth.