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Kaiser Permanente: Part of a Health Community

June 15, 2002

In his June 10 commentary, "HMOs Stalk Patients' Rights," Jamie Court describes a Kaiser Permanente that exists only in his mind and in the minds of his trial attorney cohorts. It's time for the truth. The health-care organizations that comprise Kaiser Permanente--Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and the Permanente Medical Groups--supported the creation of the Department of Managed Health Care and continue to support strong, principled and effective regulation of health plans by the DMHC. We believe Californians agree with us that the DMHC has no authority to regulate physicians and how they operate their medical practices.

While we believe that the DMHC has a legitimate role in overseeing health plans to ensure access, continuity of care and quality, we disagree with the DMHC regarding the scope of its authority in a recent case cited by Court. So too did the administrative law judge who rejected every single allegation the DMHC brought about access and continuity of care in that specific case. The judge's decision is consistent with the medical board's conclusion that the medical care in this case met community standards. It should be noted that this case did not involve quality-of-care allegations or a health plan's responsibility to have an effective quality-assurance program.

Court's irresponsible remarks are insulting to the many thousands of dedicated physicians, nurses and other health-care workers at Kaiser Permanente who care for more than 6.3 million Californians. The truth is that while we are not perfect, each day the people of Kaiser Permanente strive to provide quality, affordable health care to our communities.

Dick Pettingill

President, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Calif. Division Oakland

Oliver Goldsmith MD

Medical Director

Southern California Permanente

Medical Groups, Pasadena

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