Sunday, March 2, 2014

As NUHW Exposes Scandal, Top Kaiser Permanente Exec Resigns under Fire

Dr. Christine Cassel
Last week, NUHW scored an exciting victory when a top official at Kaiser Permanente resigned after the union exposed six-figure corruption inside the giant HMO.

NUHW’s action made headlines in the Los Angeles Times, Modern Healthcare, ProPublica and elsewhere.

Here's what happened.

Despite Kaiser's bogus claims of hard financial times, it turns out the HMO is awash with so much cash that it lubricates its Board of Directors with $1,400-an-hour salaries! 

According to tax returns posted on NUHW's website, Kaiser pays each of its 15 board members more than $200,000 a year for attending only six board meetings!

Hmm... last time Tasty checked, Kaiser was supposed to be a nonprofit!

And in the case of one board member, Kaiser’s gold-plated payouts triggered fears that the HMO is using its six-figure generosity to purchase the loyalty of a top industry insider.

NUHW revealed that the board member -- Dr. Christine Cassel -- also happens to serve as the CEO of the National Quality Forum, a DC-based organization whose decisions affect Kaiser’s revenues under the Medicare program.

Furthermore, NUHW revealed that last year, Cassel accepted a position on the board of directors of Premier, Inc., one of the largest group-purchasing organizations in the U.S. healthcare industry. For this third gig, Cassel took home $235,000 in cash and stock.

That's in addition to her salary at her ‘day job,’ where NQF pays her $561,000 a year!

After NUHW gave the info to ProPublica, the award-winning group of investigative journalists penned an article about Cassel’s conflicts of interest. Top ethics experts who are cited in ProPublica's article said her payouts are "egregious" and called on her to resign. A U.S. senator weighed in, instructing Cassel to cough up internal documents. NUHW called for Cassel's resignation.

Soon thereafter, Cassel quit her positions at both Kaiser and Premier, Inc., making headlines across the nation.

It's similar to an earlier episode, when NUHW ousted a fatcat CEO for pocketing eight pension plans while trying to eliminate workers' only pension. Once again, NUHW has scored an important victory by exposing the corruption among the well-heeled executives atop the U.S. healthcare industry.