Kaiser Permanente was rated California's top health care plan on report cards issued Wednesday by a state agency that has been assessing health plans and providers for more than a decade.
Kaiser's Northern and Southern California HMOs received "excellent" ratings, the highest of four scores, for quality of care and for patient satisfaction in the Health Care Quality Report Cards issued by the state Office of the Patient Advocate.
The eight other major HMO plans -- including Blue Shield, Health Net, Anthem Blue Cross and UnitedHealthcare -- were rated "good," the second-highest score, on quality of care.
The scores were based on the percentage of patients who received care at levels matching national standards.
Rating medical groups that serve Sonoma County, the report card gave an "excellent" grade to Kaiser's San Rafael Medical Center and a "good" score to Kaiser's Santa Rosa Medical Center, the Meritage Medical Network and Sutter Medical Group of the Redwoods.
Sonoma County Primary Care IPA received a "poor" rating, meaning half or fewer of its members received standard care.
Each medical group also was rated on six categories of care: asthma, checking for cancer, chlamydia screening, diabetes and heart care and treatment of children.
Two local physicians said the state report cards are important to patients and providers.
"The way we treat patients is becoming more apparent to them," said Dr. Gary McLeod, a family practice physician who is medical director of quality for Sutter Medical Group of the Redwoods. The group includes 361 primary care physicians and specialists.
That transparency encourages health care providers "to become more competitive," he said, and to practice more preventive medicine.