Queen's Update

Kaiser Permanente Hawaii update regarding The Queen’s Health Systems

 

November 1, 2019

While we are disappointed by the Court's ruling, Kaiser Permanente remains committed to defending Hawaii residents from unfair billing practices. We intend to appeal the court's decision and will take whatever steps are necessary to protect our members and the community.

Above all we are committed to ensuring our members receive the care they need. Kaiser Permanente members have access to emergency and trauma services at every hospital emergency room in Hawaii and throughout the nation.

Kaiser Permanente has been working to renew our contract with The Queen's Health Systems since late 2017. During that process, Queen's hasn't meaningfully compromised on their original demand for unreasonable rate increase. Health care premiums are derived from health care costs. And unsustainable charges from providers like Queen's are one of the primary drivers of the steadily rising health care costs in this state.

Queen's has repeatedly threatened to balance bill patients. This means they would try and collect the balance of charges not paid by medical insurance from patients. It unfairly puts patients in the middle of disputes between hospitals and insurance companies.

Consumers deserve better and we welcome the opportunity to work more closely with the health care community and other stakeholders to find ways to deliver more affordable health care options to Hawaii residents. 

If you have questions about coverage or benefits visit kp.org or call our Member Services Center at 808-432-5955 (Oahu), 1-800-966-5955 (Neighbor Islands).

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August 22, 2019

In June, Kaiser Permanente filed a lawsuit in federal court against The Queen's Health Systems (QHS) to protect our patients from unfair billing practices.

Unfortunately, QHS continues to threaten to bill patients for the balance of any charges, above what Kaiser Permanente pays. This practice, known as balance billing, is intolerable and puts patients, who may already be dealing with serious and stressful health issues, in the middle of a contract dispute.

Kaiser Permanente is taking additional steps to protect our patients and today filed a temporary restraining order asking the court to immediately block QHS from balance billing, while the federal lawsuit is ongoing.

We remain committed to working toward a fair and equitable agreement with QHS but will not stand by while they threaten patients with surprise bills to gain bargaining leverage.

We look forward to a court reviewing this case and are confident we will prevail following an impartial review of the facts.

If you have questions about coverage or benefits visit kp.org or call our Member Services Center at 808-432-5955 (Oahu), 1-800-966-5955 (Neighbor Islands).

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August 14, 2019

In June, Kaiser Permanente filed a lawsuit in federal court against The Queen’s Health Systems (Queen’s) to protect patients from unfair billing practices. Yesterday, Queen’s filed a motion asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit, and claiming it has a right to go after patients and balance bill them. Arguments like the ones in Queen’s motion have been rejected by other courts.

Prior negotiations broke down because Queen’s refused to move from its original position of excessive rates despite several proposals of increasing value by Kaiser Permanente. Queen’s did not negotiate, but rather presented above-market rates as a “take-it-or-leave-it” position. This does not demonstrate a willingness to negotiate in good faith for the good of patients and the community.

It is important to know that Kaiser Permanente is committed to ensuring patients receive the care they need and that KP members retain access to emergency and trauma services at all Queen’s facilities, as they would at any other hospital.

Kaiser Permanente is disappointed that Queen’s continues to put patients in the middle of a rate negotiation. Kaiser Permanente currently is paying more than it was paying under the parties’ prior contract. Queen’s terminated that contract and demanded Kaiser Permanente pay rates above market norms that exceed what other hospitals charge. Queen’s plans to go after patients if Kaiser Permanente doesn’t pay these unreasonable rates.

It is unacceptable for Queen’s to use patients, who may already be dealing with serious and stressful health issues, as bargaining tools. Kaiser Permanente filed its lawsuit to protect its members, and other Hawaii residents, from Queen’s repeated threats to use unfair billing practices.

While we remain committed to working toward a fair and equitable agreement, we cannot agree to Queen’s unreasonable demands that make health care increasingly unaffordable. We will not tolerate Queen’s use of patients’ health care as a negotiating tool.

We look forward to a court reviewing this case and are confident we will prevail following an impartial review of the facts.

If you have questions about coverage or benefits visit kp.org or call our Member Services Center at 808-432-5955 (Oahu), 1-800-966-5955 (Neighbor Islands).

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June 13, 2019

Since late 2017, Kaiser Permanente Hawaii has been in ongoing negotiations with The Queen's Health System (QHS) to renew a hospital provider contract with these QHS hospitals: The Queen's Medical Center (the only level one trauma hospital in Hawaii), The Queen's Medical Center - West Oahu, North Hawaii Community Hospital, and Molokai General Hospital.

We are disappointed that QHS has rejected multiple offers for a fair and reasonable contract and has not given any indication of compromise from their original demands. As a result, the four hospitals are now considered non-participating providers, no longer a part of our Kaiser Permanente (KP) network.

It is important to now that Kaiser Permanente is committed to ensuring patients receive the care they need and that KP members retain access to emergency and trauma services at all Queen's facilities, as they would at any other hospital.

We are working hard to ensure continuity of care for all our patients. Members who currently have referrals to QHS generally will not have their course of treatment interrupted and will continue to receive treatment. For future referrals we will coordinate care for our members with quality contracted providers.

KP Medicare and Medicaid (QUEST) member's services will be paid at original Medicare rates and Medicaid rates respectively.

QHS recently informed us that they will attempt to collect the balance of charges, above what KP pays as usual and customary, from KP commercial members who receive medical care at any of the QHS facilities. This "balance billing" is an unfair practice that puts patients, who may already be dealing with serious and stressful health issues, in the middle of a contract dispute. Kaiser Permanente has filed a lawsuit against QHS to protect our patients from these unfair billing practices.

We are committed to paying Queen's fair rates for the care they deliver to our members. These rates will be set at what is called usual, customary and reasonable or UCR for commercial members. These are based on industry benchmarks and existing hospital contracts in the Hawaii market.

While we want to work toward and fair and equitable agreement, we cannot agree to Queen's demands for unreasonable rate increases. Such payments are unsustainable and would greatly increase medical inflation and escalate the overall cost of care for all Hawaii residents.

Kaiser Permanente has filed this lawsuit to protect our patients from unfair billing practices. We look forward to a court reviewing this case and are confident we will prevail following an impartial review of the facts.

If you have questions about coverage or benefits visit kp.org or call our Member Services Center at 808-432-5955 (Oahu), 1-800-966-5955 (Neighbor Islands).

 

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