NUHW Sues California’s Healthcare Exchange to Protect Patients
Last week I joined with the National Union of Healthcare Workers and four other healthcare workers in filing suit in the Sacramento County Superior Court against the California Health Benefits Exchange because they approved of the inclusion of Kaiser Permanente as an option for people to choose when the “Obamacare” Exchange goes into effect later this year. (Read the lawsuit here)
Earlier this year, Kaiser Permanente was cited for numerous serious deficiencies by the California Department of Managed Healthcare (DMHC) in areas critical to providing effective patient care in its mental health services, including its failure to ensure clinically appropriate care to Kaiser enrollees. In June, the DMHC took the unprecedented step of fining Kaiser $4 million, the second highest fine in the agency’s history.
Despite notifying the Exchange twice in writing regarding Kaiser’s serious deficiencies (Read the letters from July 24th and August 2nd), the Exchange never replied to our concerns, and, we believe, in violation of federal and state law and its own regulations, contracted with Kaiser as a plan to be offered when Obamacare is soon implemented.
Our goal is simple: before Kaiser is allowed to enroll thousands more patients through Obamacare, it should demonstrate to the DMHC that it can take care of the millions of Kaiser patients who are already paying Kaiser for their care.
As both a Kaiser patient and a Kaiser mental health clinician, I want Kaiser to provide the highest quality care possible, rather than focusing on how to increase Kaiser profits at the expense of patient care. In the past, Kaiser has shown that it has the ability to be a leader in healthcare.
We believe that Kaiser can become that leader again – a great place to work, and a great place to receive care.
But that starts by abiding by the law and providing the care that Kaiser patients deserve.
Horace Beach, PhD
P.S. Read more about this important development in the Sacramento Business Journal and California Healthline.