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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Kaiser Drops Appeal of $4 Million Health Fine (Update)

Posted By on Tue, Sep 9, 2014 at 12:54 PM

click to enlarge FLICKR/CHRIS ROACH
Update, 3:46 p.m.: Kaiser Permanente has issued a statement detailing its comprehensive improvements, which include more convenient appointment times and personalized treatment plans that allow patients to choose their own therapists.

Original Story:

Kaiser Permanente has dropped its appeal of a $4 million  fine imposed by the California Department of Managed Health Care, mostly for systemic delays in treating mental health patients. 

According to a regulatory report that the DMHC issued last year, Kaiser would routinely ask patients to wait weeks for services, even though it's required by law to see them within 10 days. Some patients may have committed suicide as a result, spokesmen from the National Union of Healthcare Workers claim.

The DMCA sent Kaiser a cease and desist letter in June 2013, citing various violations of the California Mental Health Parity Act, but it did not require the hospital to produce a correction plan. Instead, the department will conduct a follow-up survey to assess the Oakland-based healthcare giant's progress.

Kaiser says it's rolling out various improvements to amend its system, though a DMHC spokesman says he hasn't yet heard what they are. SF Weekly is still waiting on Kaiser for comment. The hospital system has also argued that it's being held to an unfair standard, given that it's the only health plan in the state that tracks the wait time for every initial appointment. 

Kaiser's widespread use of electronic tracking and communication systems has pushed it ahead of the curve in other areas, enabling patients to get quick appointments and physician consultations in other departments. Sadly, though, it's a many-pronged system.


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About The Author

Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan

Bio:
Rachel Swan was a staff writer at SF Weekly from 2013 to 2015. In previous lives she was a music editor, IP hack, and tutor of Cal athletes.

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