News of the Month — October 2022

NewsOctober 25, 2022

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CNN, San Francisco Gate, Sacramento Bee, Bloomberg Law, KQED, El Tecolote, Becker’s Hospital Review, Oaklandside, Silicon Valley, Beyond Chron, Healthcare Dive, Med City News, San Francisco Chronicle, LAProgressive, ABC7 , Modern Healthcare, and People’s World are just some of the media outlets that reported on NUHW members ratifying a four-year contract with Kaiser Permanente to put an end to the 10-week strike they began in mid August. The contract gives therapists nearly two hours of additional time per week to respond to patient emails, contact social service agencies and perform other administrative tasks. The deal also includes a commitment from Kaiser to hire more therapists, improve access to treatment for patients and increase initial consultation times for children.

The Sacramento Bee reported that Sutter Health agreed to pay roughly $13 million to settle allegations that it illegally billed federal agencies for performing tests that actually had been performed by a third-party laboratory between Aug. 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017. The Sutter agreement settled a civil complaint brought by Medicare; Medicaid; the TRICARE health care program that covers uniformed service members, veterans and their families; and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program that covers civilian workers in the U.S. government.

Blue Shield of California sued the state’s Department of Health Care Services over an alleged failure to produce documents about how it plans to contract with for-profit health insurers across the nation who want to participate in the Medi-Cal program, Fierce Healthcare reported. Of particular concern is a no-bid contract allowing Kaiser Permanente to cherry-pick healthier Medi-Cal enrollees, while other health plans care for sicker enrollees who drive up costs. About 84% of Medi-Cal enrollees are enrolled in Medicaid-managed care plans.

Big Island Now reported that 15 Hawai’i state legislators signed a letter addressing the challenges faced by mental healthcare workers amid ongoing lack of investment and called on Kaiser for being cited by the National Committee for Quality Assurance for violating national timely access standards for mental health care and placing the health care giant under a corrective action plan. NUHW members Justin Maeda, Bob Condon and Andrea Kumura were also included in a Civil Beat story about the ongoing strike by Hawaii mental health therapists against Kaiser as they demand better patient care.

In response to a New York Times report detailing the system’s alleged debt collection practice, Providence CEO Rod Hochman said the Rev-Up program was short-lived and no longer exists, reported Becker’s Hospital Review. He also noted that Providence has started issuing refunds with interest after resolving an error that resulted in some Medicaid patients receiving collections notices and making payments to a third-party collection agency. Oregon’s Department of Justice has also opened a consumer protection investigation.

Becker’s Hospital Review reports that a measure to raise the minimum wage for healthcare workers at privately owned facilities in Los Angeles to $25 an hour will go before voters on March 5, 2024, after a group led by the California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems collected enough signatures to suspend the ordinance approved by the City Council and prompted a public vote on the issue.