Plain Dealer Reporter
Kaiser Permanente of Ohio has fired two
workers for allegedly changing documents so that the HMO would score
higher in an evaluation.
"We discovered it, we promptly
investigated it, we reported it, and we're fixing it," Patricia
Kennedy-Scott, regional president for Ohio, said yesterday.
She said the deception was discovered
last month as the National Committee for Quality Assurance was
conducting a routine accreditation review of the health plan. The
committee accredits plans that meet certain standards, making them more
attractive to employers and consumers.
One standard calls for health insurers
to use plain language rather than medical jargon when communicating
care decisions with customers. Kennedy-Scott said two nonclinical
employees altered copies of about 10 letters that had already been sent
to customers in order to make them easier to read. The simpler language
would have scored more points in the evaluation.
"What these individuals did was wrong,
absolutely wrong," Kennedy-Scott said.
Another Kaiser employee blew the whistle
on the scheme, she said. The company immediately investigated and
notified the accrediting agency of the problem.
The agency is now investigating and will
decide in about six weeks whether Kaiser will be reaccredited,
spokesman Barry Scholl said yesterday.