Despite reports of grumbling, the hospital, plan and physician partners of Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente have renewed their vows.
Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals and the Permanente Federation-the new national organization joining the 12 Permanente medical groups-signed a national partnership agreement with the company late last month.
The deal requires the physicians to treat Kaiser enrollees exclusively.
The new partnership agreement also gives the physicians more say in the development and execution of Kaiser's strategic plans.
Earlier reports indicated Permanente physicians felt the health plan had taken unilateral actions in expanding to new regions last year.
"We spent seven or eight months looking at the environment and recasting our partnership, and we decided we had it right," said Francis J. Crosson, M.D., executive director of the federation. "Less of our doctors are unhappy than in other environments."
Still, Kaiser has not been able to shield its physicians from market problems such as oversupply.
In Northern California, for example, Kaiser physicians last year were given the choice of a 9% salary reduction or working more hours.