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Short Calls, Limited Appointments Rewarded By Kaiser

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Telephone clerks at the state´s largest H-M-O were given bonuses for keeping calls with patients brief. Clerks for Oakland-based Kaiser Permanente also limited the number of doctor appointments scheduled at three call centers from January 2000 to December 2001.

Kaiser spokesman Jim Anderson says the program was discontinued after the one year period. Many say the program was deceitful and harmful to patients with serious medical problems. Service Employees International Union Local 250 in Oakland gave cash bonuses to clerks who spent an average of less than three minutes and 45 seconds on the phone per patient.