New Health Care Watchdog Coalition Urges DMHC to Put Patients Over Profits

<0> Calls on Governor to Stop $4 Billion Merger </0>

New Health Care Watchdog Coalition Urges DMHC to Put Patients Over Profits

Perry Communications GroupYessenia Anderson, 916-840-0411orOur SALUDElba Romo, 213-604-1099

The following is a statement by Our SALUD:

Today Our SALUD (Somos Aliados Latinos Unidos por la Dignidad - Latino Allies United for Dignity), a health care watchdog coalition, demanded on the eve of the nation’s largest health care consolidation effort, a halt to a merger vote pending an investigation into a lawsuit surrounding patient care provided by the largest unlicensed LA-based HMO.

Joined by dozens of community members and the attorney representing a class action lawsuit against the HMO, Our SALUD will march outside of Governor Jerry Brown’s L.A office today, asking the Governor, state regulators and California lawmakers to take action on what will be an unlawful partnership and an intolerable abandonment of obligations by the California Department of Managed Health Care.

On Wednesday, HealthCare Partners medical group (HCP), a Torrance-based physician group managing 675,000 patient lives will ask their Board of Directors to complete the $4.42 billion merger with DaVita, Inc., a publicly-traded, non-physician controlled, out of state corporation. DaVita, a company that provides dialysis nationwide, has already gained their Board of Directors’ support for the merger. It is unclear whether the Board of Directors for either company have been made aware of the medical malpractice and class action lawsuits pending against HealthCare Partners, and that they will be held personally liable for the damages caused to patient Juan Carlos Jandres, and others in the class. Upon merging with DaVita, HCP will be allegedly in violation of the Business and Professions Code which prevents non-physicians from making decisions that affect patient care.

“Today, patients and their caregivers are asking Governor Jerry Brown to explain how an unlicensed HMO can serve our communities with no oversight or regulation? How is it that a medical group makes $2 billion a year with no oversight by the DMHC? People’s lives are at stake,” Alma Marquez, Co-Founder, Our SALUD said. “Juan Carlos Jandres knows firsthand what is at stake. He had to fight for the care he needed, had to pay for it himself, and, as a result, has suffered horrific surgeries removing many of his facial bones and now requires a facial prosthesis so he can go to work every day and make a living. He is a young man. This is not right. ”

Today, Randy McMurray of the Cochran Law Firm, will file a preliminary injunction asking the court to delay the merger until HCP obtains a license from the DMHC. The law firm is the same firm that has filed a class action and medical malpractice case against HealthCare Partners medical group. The firm claims they have found a long standing disregard for managed care laws and a substantial failure in oversight and regulation by the California Department of Managed Health Care.

HealthCare Partners acts like an HMO by creating a contracted network of hospitals, but is not licensed by the DMHC to provide medical and hospital services in California. HCP then forces patients to their substandard network of community hospitals to avoid the cost associated with other quality hospitals in the patients’ health plan network. This was the situation that allegedly caused Juan Carlos Jandres his medical crisis.

HCP has grown exponentially for years without regulation, putting Los Angeles and Orange County patients and hospitals at a disadvantage. Hospitals are stripped of their ability to enter into contracts with HPC because they are unlicensed and patients are limited to a much narrower network of care thereby inhibiting a patient’s physical and professional access to quality healthcare. Other medical groups in the region are put at a disadvantage as HCP isn’t following regulations and can undercut deals made with the region's managed care organizations.

Letters insisting these questions be answered and addressed have been sent to the and to .

“If the governmental agencies in charge of these laws won’t protect our citizens and communities, what purpose do they serve?” Marquez said.

Our SALUD is requesting that the allegations asserted in the current lawsuits be openly investigated in a hearing prior to the finalization of the upcoming merger, stressing that the ramifications of ignoring these issues can have far reaching economic, political, and social welfare impacts.

“This is not merely an administrative matter. This is a matter of conscience and of protecting our families and our communities,” Marquez explained. “It is time that we put patients before profits and halt the HealthCare Partners merger until we can see for ourselves that patient protections have been put in place.”

Without a formal review of this merger advocates fear an unprecedented domino effect could soon follow as there will be no incentive for other health plans to abide by state law or properly cover financial risk they are assuming for patients.