Kaiser Permanente paid Baltimore mayor over $100K for books while seeking city contract

Kaiser Permanente paid Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh about $114,000 for about 20,000 copies of her self-published children's books while the healthcare organization was seeking a lucrative contract from a spending board controlled by the mayor, The Baltimore Sun reported this week.

Kaiser, a healthcare provider and insurer based in Oakland, Calif., is the second healthcare organization to be embroiled in the controversial book sales.

Seven notes:

1. The Baltimore mayor is facing criticism over the profit she made from selling a children's book series to businesses linked to city government.

2. In March, news broke that the University of Maryland Medical System in Baltimore was a major buyer of Ms. Pugh's "Healthy Holly" children's books. The medical system paid Ms. Pugh $500,000 for 100,000 books.

3. Ms. Pugh sat on the board at the medical system. She resigned shortly after the payments were made public. She faces scrutiny for failing to disclose the deal with the medical system.

4. On April 1, The Baltimore Sun reported that Kaiser also had paid the mayor for her children's books.

5. In September 2017, the city's spending board awarded Kaiser Foundation Health Plan a $48 million contract to provide health insurance to city employees from 2018 to 2020. Ms. Pugh is chair of the Baltimore spending board. She did not sit out the vote despite the potential conflict of interest, according to the report.

6. Kaiser told The Baltimore Sun that payments for the books were not connected to the health insurance contract. Kaiser said its business with the city started in 1986, when it was selected as one of Baltimore's health plan providers.

"Our purchase of the 'Healthy Holly' books nearly 30 years after being selected as one of the health plan providers for the city employees has no connection with our commitment to continue offering our care to Baltimore city government employees," Kaiser told The Baltimore Sun. "We purchased 'Healthy Holly' books because we believe residents would be inspired by a book about health and wellness authored by a member of the Baltimore community."

7. On Monday, Ms. Pugh announced an "indefinite" leave of absence as mayor.

Read the full report here.


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