Torrance Hospital Independent Practice Association, HealthCare Partners Independent Practice Association and HealthCare Partners Medical Group all earned three stars – meaning “good” – in the categories of medical care and patient satisfaction. Lynda Carre, spokeswoman for Torrance-based HealthCare Partners Medical Group, said the report is an important tool for patients. “We take this very seriously,” she said. “It’s a way to demystify the health-care system for patients who have a greater ability now to make their own decisions about health coverage.” This is the seventh year the state has issued grades to HMOs and medical groups. The grading system did not include independent hospitals such as Torrance Memorial Medical Center or Little Company of Mary, or county hospitals such as County Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. Grades were given to nine HMOs that serve about 95 percent of patients who have this type of coverage in California: Aetna Health of California Inc.; Blue Cross HMO-CaliforniaCare; Blue Shield of California HMO; CIGNA HMO; Health Net of California Inc.; Kaiser Permanente-Northern California; Kaiser Permanente-Southern California; PacifiCare of California; and Western Health Advantage. Most of the HMOs received two or three stars in both categories; Aetna received one star in patient satisfaction. The health organizations were also graded on care for specific ailments such as asthma, cancer, heart care and sexually transmitted diseases. Patient advocates said there were some troubling findings in these areas. “There are certainly some areas where patients need to demand better,” Sandra Perez, director of the Office of the Patient Advocate, said during a morning news conference in Sacramento. One in every three HMO members rates his or her plan unfavorably, according to the report, and one-third were dissatisfied with their patient “experience,” such as ease in scheduling appointments. Only half of HMO patients with mental health problems received care that met national standards, according to the report. Blue Cross of California and CIGNA HMO received high marks for maternity care; Kaiser North and South were rated “excellent” for heart care; Health Net of California earned the highest marks for cancer screening; and Blue Shield received the best score for patient satisfaction. Mark Moser, chief operating officer of Torrance Hospital Independent Practice Association, said the group doesn’t have a lot of control over patient satisfaction. Patients deal only with doctors they contract with, not with the administrators, he said. People who receive insurance through their jobs also often don’t have a choice as to what HMO they will use. The grading system gives them power, though, in choosing medical groups, Perez said, just as they have power in demanding quality when buying homes and cars. Rancho Palos Verdes resident Marty Dodell, a volunteer who helps coordinate health education events for seniors, said he usually bases his provider decisions on the advice of professionals, not state reports. “You read stuff like this almost on a daily basis,” he said, referring to the grading report. “It’s hard to know which one to trust.” [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! RATINGS: Kaiser Permanente scores best; La Vida struggles. But most HMOs and medical groups receive solid marks. By Melissa Evans STAFF WRITER Health maintenance organizations and the medical groups they contract with in the South Bay fared relatively well on a statewide grading report released Thursday. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.The 2007 Health Care Quality Report Card, compiled by the Office of the Patient Advocate in Sacramento, rates the health organizations, which serve about half of all Californians, based on national standards of quality care and patient satisfaction surveys conducted over the last year. Southern California Permanente Medical Group-South Bay, which serves about 190,000 patients, earned the highest marks of any local medical group. The subsidiary of Kaiser Permanente-Southern California received a perfect score of four stars, meaning “excellent,” in the category of medical care and three stars for patient satisfaction. “I think this reflects the high level of performance that we have shown in these areas,” said Dr. Douglas Killion, medical director of the group and chief of staff of the Kaiser Permanente South Bay Medical Center in Harbor City. “This is a very important marker for us.” Other local groups received low marks. La Vida Independent Practice Association and La Vida Multi-Specialty Medical Center, which have medical offices in San Pedro, Marina del Rey and Hawthorne, earned just one star, meaning “poor,” for medical standards. La Vida medical groups were not rated for patient satisfaction. Officials with La Vida did not return calls Thursday seeking comment.