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Local News in Brief : Kaiser Sued Over Nursing Care Policy

An advocacy group for the handicapped has filed suit against the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, alleging that it intends to drastically reduce in-home nursing care to disabled patients, placing some of them “at risk of death.”

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court by the Western Law Center for the Handicapped, says Kaiser gave one week’s notice to the parents of a 6-year-old Los Angeles boy that his home nursing care would be cut from 16 to five hours daily. The boy is partially paralyzed and depends on a ventilator for breathing, the suit says.

The boy’s lawyers alleged that the policy change by Kaiser, reducing home nursing hours for as many as 72 patients in California, “was made solely on fiscal considerations” without medical evaluation of the patients. Since the lawsuit was filed Sept. 1, Kaiser has agreed to postpone nursing cutbacks for one month, attorney Dan Stormer said.

Kaiser spokeswoman Janice Seib said the health plan has provided in-home nursing care in a pilot program that “needs fine-tuning.” But Kaiser’s “bottom line is patient well-being,” she said.

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A review of the case of the 6-year-old boy, she said, showed that licensed vocational nurses were being used for his custodial care, which Kaiser does not cover.


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