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News of the Month — July 2022

NewsJuly 26, 2022

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Capital & Main features NUHW members Emily Ryan, Susan Whitney, Tanya Veluz and Ken Harlander in a feature story about mental health practitioners at Kaiser being so overburdened with patients that waiting periods between appointments can be six weeks or more. The story also notes California’s Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) launching a “non-routine survey” to determine whether Kaiser is offering adequate behavioral health care.

NUHW is featured in a story about California lawmakers approving, and Governor Gavin Newsom signing, a controversial no-bid statewide Medi-Cal contract for Kaiser Permanente over the objection of county government and other health plans. NUHW President Sal Rosselli notes in the California Healthline story that the provisions in the new law to assess compliance are insufficient and that NUHW had asked for Kaiser to undergo an annual certification process barring Kaiser from enrolling new Medi-Cal enrollees in any year it wasn’t certified.

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat features several NUHW members in a story about the chronic shortstaffing affecting Sonoma County jail due to Wellpath’s decision not to hire more workers, which impacts inmate care at the facility.

The Pleasanton Weekly include NUHW member Sarah Soroken, a triage therapist at Kaiser, in a story about SB 221, a bill sponsored by NUHW that requires insurers to provide mental health followup appointments within 10 business days unless therapist deems that a longer wait will not be detrimental to patient’s condition. NUHW President Sal Rosselli is also included in the piece.

NUHW members Sara Perez, a licensed practical nurse, and Dana Martin, a registered nurse at the Sonoma County Jail, as well as a letter sent by the union to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors are included in a story by the Santa Rosa Press Democrat about the impact chronic short staffing at the facility due to Wellpath consistently filling less than two-thirds of its more than 40 contracted positions. A new 5-year contract awarded to Wellpath in October requires quarterly personnel reports sent to the Board of Supervisors – an attempt to compel Wellpath to fulfill staffing requirements.

NUHW’s opposition is noted in a story by the State of Reform about Gov. Newsom signing a deal granting Kaiser Permanente a no-bid statewide Medi-Cal contract that allows the HMO giant to pick the enrollees it wants and avoid the less healthier and more expensive patient populations. “We have long advocated for Kaiser to cover larger numbers of Medi-Cal enrollees, but we are gravely concerned that without appropriate safeguards, an expanded Medi-Cal contract with Kaiser could put some of the state’s most vulnerable residents at risk,” NUHW stated.

FormerAssemblywoman Lorena Gonzalezformally took over as head of the California Labor Federation, and she is incorporating the United Farm Workers into the Fed, reports Los Angeles Times. UFW is down to fewer than 7,000 membersby most counts and last fall suffered an ugly legislative defeat when Newsom vetoed a bill that would have allowed mail-in ballots for its unionization drives.

Premiums for health insurance plans sold through the state marketplace will increase an average of 6% next year, Cal Matters reports. This rate hike is the largest California has seen since 2019. In the last three years, insurers had kept average increases under 2%. Rate changes vary by region— from an 11.7% increase in Imperial, Inyo and Mono counties to zero change in Fresno, Kings, and Madera counties.