Kaiser Permanente Chief Financial Officer Susan Porth has resigned on the heels of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals posting its first-ever loss, MODERN HEALTHCARE has learned.
A Kaiser spokeswoman said Porth's resignation was planned some time ago and is unrelated to the $270 million loss for 1997. Porth, who joined the not-for-profit HMO in 1978 as treasurer of Kaiser Health Plan and Hospitals, is leaving to pursue other interests and to spend more time with her family, which owns a winery in California, the spokeswoman said.
Meanwhile, Kaiser said it has signed a letter of intent with Texas Health Resources, the parent of 300,000-enrollee Harris Methodist Health Plan in Dallas, to explore the sale of Kaiser's Texas HMO. Kaiser's 130,000-enrollee Texas plan, which lost $50 million last year, is one of five money-losing plans Kaiser is considering divesting.
Apart from financial losses, the Kaiser plan in Texas has proved a public relations nightmare. Last year the plan tried to keep a critical report by the state insurance department under wraps, only to have it leaked to the media. The report detailed how Kaiser denied and delayed payment for emergency room treatment. The plan challenged the report but agreed to pay a fine of $1 million.
In February, ABC-TV's "Nightline" aired a report about Kaiser settling a malpractice lawsuit in Texas for $5.3 million. Jurors were shocked by evidence of statements about cost-cutting by a Kaiser executive, John Vogt. David Lawrence, Kaiser chairman and chief executive officer, said Vogt's statements were misunderstood.