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Friday, Apr 12, 2024

Health Care—Kaiser staff to get raises in five-year union pact

Scripps Clinic to Withdraw Medicare

HMO Coverage

Kaiser Permanente, the largest health maintenance organization in California, agreed to a five-year contract with a coalition of unions representing 64,000 union members , 4,100 of which are in San Diego.

The contract effective Oct. 1 involves 25 unions representing nurses, clerks, housekeepers and cafeteria workers.

Five of the unions are in San Diego, said Jim McBride, Kaiser spokesman for San Diego.

The agreement calls for Kaiser to raise annual pay for non-registered nurses and other workers by 4 percent in the next five years.

Annual wages for registered nurses will be raised by 6 percent in the first two years and 5 percent in the last three years.

The pay raises took effect Oct. 1.

Under the contract, Kaiser workers will also be more involved in making decisions about patient care and business planning, McBride said.

Union members will also be eligible for bonuses if they meet “certain goals” , such as improved patient satisfaction and reduced medical errors.

McBride expects this plan won’t be realized until the last three years of the contract.

“This is something that is being discussed, but has yet to be developed,” he said.

Officials at a rival nurses union, however, already voiced concern about this part of the contract, according to published reports.

Said Roseanne De Moro, director of the California Nurses Association, which represents Kaiser registered nurses in Northern California, “They can’t be on the side of the market and the public at the same time. It’s an inherent conflict of interest,” according to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times.

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Scripps Freeze: Scripps Clinic said it will no longer offer Medicare HMO coverage starting Nov. 1, because the program hasn’t proven to be “economically viable,” a spokesman said.

The spokesman, who did not want to be named, couldn’t offer more details.

He said, however, the 19,000 members presently enrolled in the Medicare HMO will not be affected by this decision as of now, he said.

The Medicare HMO contracts with Health Net and Secure Horizons, a PacifiCare unit and Aetna.

Scripps’ announcement to freeze new enrollment follows the withdrawal of another local Medicare HMO provider.

UCSD Healthcare said last month it will discontinue its Medicare pilot program as of Dec. 31 amid low membership and high administrative costs. The news forces its 4,000 current members to seek another HMO.

Race To Fight Breast Cancer: On Nov. 5, the usually tranquil Balboa Park will be transformed into a bustling scene , more than 1 million San Diegans are expected to race during the fifth annual Komen San Diego Race for the Cure.

The annual race put on by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation includes a 5K (3.1 miles) run/walk starting at 8:30 a.m. and a 1-mile fun walk starting at 9 a.m.

Local sponsors include Albertsons stores, Sav-On Drugs, San Diego County Ford Dealers, Children’s Hospital & Health Center, Kaiser Permanente, Sharp Healthcare and UCSD Health Plan.

The foundation hopes to raise more than $500,000 with the help of local supporters.

The money will be used to support breast cancer research and provide health care for San Diego’s medically underserved population.

Send health care news to Marion Webb at mwebb@sdbj.com.


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