The Agenda and Meeting Materials for the May 21, 2019 Regular Meeting of the OIHCD are now available online.
The Orcas Island Health Care District and Orcas Island Fire and Rescue continue to work together, along with other County-wide leaders, to resolve ongoing concerns related to Kaiser Permanente’s coverage for emergency medical air transport.
As a consumer, if you experience a denial from your insurance company for any covered service you can contact the Office of the Insurance Commissioner for WA State (OIC) for assistance.
The Insurance Commissioner’s office answers hundreds of insurance questions every day, and you can easily file a complaint against your insurance company on their website. You can also call the toll-free Insurance Consumer Hotline at 800-562-6900.
By now, most islanders have heard or read about a number of denials from Kaiser Permanente associated with medical air transport by either Airlift Northwest or Island Air. The situation has impacted residents throughout the County and is part of what’s emerging as a national trend to more closely monitor the necessity of emergency air transport. As is the case with many issues related to the delivery of health care, we are very different here in San Juan County and emergency air transport is an essential component of care delivery for islanders.
The OIHCD Superintendent learned about this emerging situation soon after the start of the year, and reached out to Kaiser to better understand what was happening. Over the past two months, Superintendent Presson has been working very closely with Orcas Island Fire & Rescue (OIFR) Chief Williams, Orcas Island County Council Member Rick Hughes, the San Juan County EMS Medical Director, and various other leaders throughout the County. In addition, Superintendent Presson has been working with Mark Tompkins, Director of SJC Department of Health & Community Services and the Board of Health, as the Board became very concerned with the implications on public health should this trend continue. There was a very informative discussion at the February 20th Board of Health meeting, which included representatives from both Airlift Northwest and Island Air. Click on the Board of Health video link to see live and recorded meetings.
At this point, the physician leadership from the County and Kaiser Permanente are scheduled to meet in an effort to resolve the situation. This will include a review of the processes in place that ensure every medical air transport in the County is at the direction of an emergency medical professional. The OIHCD Superintendent remains actively involved and will continue to provide updates.
For anyone who has experienced an air transport denial, both air operators have customer service representatives to assist you. Please contact either Airlift Northwest at 866-245-4373, or Island Air at 360-378-2376. In addition, islanders are welcome to contact OIFR for assistance.