Thursday, September 19, 2013

Is Kaiser Permanente in cahoots with the Department of Managed Care? NUHW Files Complaint Over Hiring of DMHC Attorney

DMHC Director (and former Kaiser counsel) Brent Barnhart

I've known for a long time that the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC or DOMHC) was in cahoots with Kaiser. DMHC responded to a complaint I filed by saying that Kaiser fulfilled its duty by taking X-rays, and was not obligated to look at them!

DOMC's actions shouldn't come a surprise, since Brent Barnhart,the Director of DMHC, is a former senior counsel at Kaiser Foundation Health Plan.

Having one of his attorneys move to Kaiser will make everything work smoothly. Marcy Gallagher will have access to Director Barnhart, and knowledge of the inner workings of DMHC. Although I can hardly imagine that things could actually get easier for Kaiser. After all, DMHC has to disapprove of SOMETHING every once in a while, just to pretend it's regulatory agency, right?

NUHW Files Complaint Against Kaiser Over Hiring of DMHC Attorney
California Healthline
September 19, 2013

The National Union of Healthcare Workers has filed a complaint against Kaiser Permanente alleging that the company hired an attorney who previously worked at a state regulatory agency to impede an investigation into its practices, Payers & Providers reports.

NUHW filed the complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission (Shinkman, Payers & Providers, 9/19).

The move comes only a few weeks after NUHW filed a lawsuit to keep Kaiser from participating in California's health insurance exchange
. Exchange officials have selected Kaiser to offer individual and small business policies (California Healthline, 9/6).

The union -- which represents about 5,000 Kaiser workers -- has been pressuring the organization since it lost an election earlier this year to represent about 45,000 employees, according to Payers & Providers.

However, John Borsos -- a spokesperson for NUHW -- said the complaint filed this week is unrelated.

The complaint highlights Kaiser's hiring of Marcy Gallagher, a former attorney with the California Department of Managed Health Care's enforcement division.

Kaiser hired Gallagher in 2012 while she was investigating the organization's health plan for issues related to mental health services access. She now serves as a practice leader in Kaiser's regulatory response business unit.

In a statement, NUHW said that Gallagher "reportedly trained Kaiser officials on how to answer questions posed by DMHC's investigators."

The union argues that the move violates the state's Political Reform Act, which regulates "switching sides by state officials" and "influencing prospective employment."

Gallagher, DMHC and Kaiser declined to comment on the complaint (Payers & Providers, 9/19).

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