SF Supervisors say Kaiser Permanente must provide better mental health care

KaiserApril 23, 2019

Supervisors say Kaiser Permanente 

must provide better mental health care for San Franciscans

San Francisco – The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday calling on Kaiser Permanente to achieve “full parity for mental health patients.”

The resolution, introduced by Supervisor Hillary Ronen, also calls on Kaiser to sufficiently staff mental health clinics to reduce lengthy appointment wait times; limit wait times to no more than ten days for return appointments for most patients; and strictly limit Kaiser’s practice of referring out more than 60,000 California patients per year to non-Kaiser therapists who often lack access to patients’ medical records and can’t coordinate their care with Kaiser doctors.

“The mental health crisis in our city impacts every resident at every economic level,” Supervisor Hillary Ronen said. “As the largest private provider of mental health care, Kaiser must ensure access to timely mental health care and early treatment to all its members.  Without mental health parity across both our private and public systems, we will not be able to address the scale of untreated mental illness that we are experiencing in San Francisco today.”

The resolution puts supervisors on record supporting proposals made by Kaiser’s nearly 4,000 psychologists, therapists and social workers, who held a five-day strike in December to demand that Kaiser stop making their patients wait months for therapy appointments. Kaiser has rejected clinician proposals to improve access to care.

“This resolution sends an important message to Kaiser that the people of San Francisco stand with mental health clinicians and patients in demanding that Kaiser fix its mental health care,” said Sal Rosselli, president of the National Union of Healthcare Workers, which represents Kaiser mental health clinicians. “We imagine other cities and counties may follow San Francisco’s lead and make it clear to Kaiser that it can no longer get away with making patients wait months to see their therapists.”