Tag Archives: kaiser

Report: Calif. hospital chain profited from ER admissions

After months of investigation and updates, California Watch reporters Christina Jewett and Stephen K. Doig have unleashed their full report on California hospital chain Prime Healthcare Services and its knack for turning around failing hospitals by apparently pushing for the admission of ER patients who are insured by Medicare or insurance giant Kaiser Permanente, then keeping them in the hospital.

The report includes hyperlink sourcing, a raft of related documents and a great explainer on how they assembled the numbers behind the story. The duo took advantage of court testimony, sources and reams of public records.

The reporters say that evidence points to “an orchestrated campaign of admitting Medicare and Kaiser patients – moving them from the emergency room to a hospital bed – in the interest of changing the fortune of a money-losing hospital.”

State data shows that after the hospital chain took over 11 hospitals beginning in 2005, the percentage of Medicare patients who were admitted from the emergency room to Prime hospital beds increased from about 45 to 63 percent.

That 40 percent increase contrasts with other California hospitals that saw an average 8 percent decline from 2005 to 2009 in Medicare patients moved from the emergency rooms to hospital beds, data shows.

And, as you’ll see throughout the story, the interviews and anecdotes back up the numbers.

Tina Buchanan, the hospital’s former chief nursing officer, testified that [Prime founder and chairman Dr. Prem Reddy] began to require emergency room staff to put a yellow sheet of paper on each patient record that listed their health insurance status.

She said he would go through the “goldenrods,” as the papers were called, and point out the Medicare or Kaiser patients and say, “Make sure you get this one admitted.”

“If it was … an uninsured patient, he would tell them, ‘Get them out of my hospital,’ ” Buchanan testified.

There’s plenty more where that came from, but I will just leave you with this editor’s note, which appears alongside the main story.

It came to our attention late Friday that Prime Healthcare had issued a press release saying it had taken legal action against California Watch. We have not been served and can’t fully comment until we have reviewed any legal filings. In our dealings with Prime over the course of the past several months, the company has yet to present to us a single factual error that has merited correction or clarification. We continue to stand by our reporting.

U.S. global health policy focus of guide

In recognition of the major role global health issues now play in even the most local stories, the Kaiser Family Foundation has released a 41-page “Reporter’s Guide to U.S. Global Health Policy” (PDF).kff

The guide devotes sections to diseases/issues (HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Tuberculosis, Neglected Tropical Diseases, Maternal and Child Health, Water-Related Diseases, Food Insecurity), U.S. funding of global health efforts (Obama’s Global Health Initiative), relevant policy issues and policymaking. It also catalogues and explains related multinational and NGO efforts and lists news-making events.

Kaiser tool compares health reform proposals

The Kaiser Family Foundation has put together a thorough, handy tool for comparing various health care reform proposals, one which can sort by 11 different plans and 17 topics.

Want to know how the plan advanced by Sen. Bernie Sanders stacks up to President Barack Obama’s plan in terms of cost containment, long-term care and subsidies to individuals? Just click the requisite boxes, click “generate comparison” and your questions will be answered with a neat little table explaining the salient features of each plan side-by-side in the health care version of plain English.

AHCJ member moves to Kaiser Health News

AHCJ member Mary Agnes Carey has been hired as a senior correspondent at Kaiser Health News, a nonprofit news service launched by the Kaiser Family Foundation, where she will continue to report on health care policy and politics.  Carey has worked at Congressional Quarterly for 12 years and was most recently the associate editor of CQ HealthBeat.

Kaiser Health News also hired John Fairhall, formerly an assistant managing editor at The (Baltimore) Sun where he oversaw projects and coverage of health and science. Fairhall, who  has been a consultant for Kaiser Health News for the past several months, will serve as senior editor.

AHCJ member Peggy Girshman and Laurie McGinley serve as executive editors of Kaiser Health News.

Read more about the launch of Kaiser Health News.

Health policy news is just 1 percent of all news

A study from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism found that news about health and health care made up 3.6 percent of all news content from January 2007 through June 2008.

It found that 42 percent of stories were about specific diseases or conditions, with cancer receiving the most attention (10 percent of all health coverage).

Thirty-one percent of health news focused on public health issues, including potential epidemics and contamination of food and drugs.

The smallest category of stories focused on health policy or the health care system (27 percent) of all health news, or less than one percent of all news content. This category includes stories on topics such as Medicare and Medicaid, the uninsured, health care costs, and proposals for reform of the health care system.

For the study, 3,513 health stories were analyzed from 48 news outlets, including newspapers of all sizes, network newscasts, cable programmingand online news sites.