Union Calls on State To Investigate Kaiser’s Mental Health Care
The National Union of Healthcare Workers and Kaiser Permanente mental health professionals are urging state officials to investigate allegations that Kaiser patients seeking mental health care often have to wait longer than the 10-day limit set by state law, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/30).
NUHW submitted its request for an investigation through lettersÂ to Brent Barnhart, director of the state Department of Managed Health Care, and state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones (D) (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 11/29).
NUHW detailed its claims against Kaiser's mental health care delivery in a recent survey of more than 300 mental health care providers at 57 Kaiser facilities.
According to the survey, more than 50% of Kaiser clinicians reported that they could not book new appointments within the 10-day limit, while 65% said that follow-up appointments also took longer than the 10-day allotment (San Francisco Chronicle, 11/30).
The report also asserted that:
- Kaiser managers asked their employees to tweak hospital records so it appeared that patients had been seen by physicians within the state-mandated 10-day period;
- Clinicians did not have time to perform basic assessments; and
- Patients were treated with group therapy because there are not enough clinicians to provide one-on-one sessions (California Healthline, 11/14).
Details of NUHW's Request
The labor union is asking state officials to investigate alleged violations of the state law based on timely access to care, geographic access to care and the California Mental Health Parity Act (Sacramento Business Journal, 11/29).
NUHW also has asked for an investigation into allegations that Kaiser falsified records to avoid receiving citations for delays (San Francisco Chronicle, 11/30).
The union added that the results of the investigation should be made public (Sacramento Business Journal, 11/29).
Kaiser has said the survey is "inaccurate and biased" (San Francisco Chronicle, 11/30).
Gerri Ginsburg, a spokesperson for Kaiser, said in a statement that Kaiser believes it meets all regulatory requirements and provides its members with high-quality care.
She added that the organization would cooperate with any regulatory review process (Sacramento Business Journal, 11/29).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.