DMHC’s Cease and Desist Order Exposes Kaiser Permanente’s Pattern and Practice of Denying Care to Mental Health Patients

NewsMarch 1, 2012

The National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) applauds the California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) for issuing a cease and desist order to Kaiser Foundation Health Plan yesterday in response to the HMO’s pattern and practice of denying physical, occupational and speech therapy services to patients with “non-physical” conditions, including mental illnesses and developmental delays.

“DMHC’s action reinforces everything caregivers have said about Kaiser’s failure to provide its patients with timely and appropriate mental health services,” said Clem Papazian, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Kaiser Oakland. “Kaiser has been engaged in an illegal pattern and practice of denying patients care for ‘non-physical conditions’ at the very same time that it’s made more than $6.1 billion in profits over three years, boosted its CEO’s pay to more than $9 million a year, and significantly raised rates for over a million Californians. Kaiser needs to stop padding its profits at patients’ expense.”

Denying patients care for certain mental health conditions is a violation of California’s Mental Health Parity Law. As Kaiser clinicians pointed out in a report last year, Kaiser routinely delays appointments for mental health services beyond legal time limits, pushes patients in need of individual counseling into group therapy settings, and falsifies patient records to conceal these illegal practices. DMHC’s action, based on complaints from Kaiser patients, demonstrates that Kaiser’s unlawful pattern of discrimination against mental health patients extends even to services beyond those documented in the report. 

NUHW’s report is available for download at: