California legislature ramps up transparency pressure on Kaiser Permanente

Amid a standoff between 85,000 California-based workers at Kaiser Permanente and the health system over contract negotiations, the California legislature has ramped up the pressure against the nonprofit healthcare services organization.

The California Assembly passed SB 343 on Aug. 22, which would require the organization to be more transparent about justifying its health insurance premiums, similar to other insurance companies. It would also have to provide more information on the individual hospital level instead of lumping data together by region.

The bill, which heads back to the California senate for a full vote, is supported by many organizations and boards, including the union representing Kaiser workers.

Earlier this month, Kaiser workers based in California voted to strike in October after labor negotiations disintegrated over the previous months. Workers complained that the nonprofit was paying executives too much, was too opaque and didn’t offer enough Medicaid services.

“With all the important healthcare reforms over the last decade, transparency around pricing is one that still needs improvement in California,” Evelia Rodriguez, a records clerk at Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles, said in a statement. “No healthcare provider, especially one as large and important as Kaiser, should be able to avoid the kind of scrutiny consumers, employers, unions and regulators need to protect themselves and the public.”