As Kaiser therapists approach their fourth week of indefinite strike, an interesting twist has developed in the battle against California’s largest HMO. State regulators launched an investigation last week to see if Kaiser Permanente is violating state laws by not offering its members timely access to mental health care during an indefinite strike that began on August 15. The Department of Managed Health Care said it received 19 patient complaints August 15-20 about accessing behavioral health appointments at the Kaiser. The National Union of Healthcare Workers, which represents striking therapists, also filed an official complaint with the agency, claiming that Kaiser was shirking his legal duty to provide assistance.
Kaiser said in a statement that several hundred mental health workers were continuing to work and support members during the strike. “To date, about 40 percent of our dedicated doctors are caring for members instead of going on strike, with more returning every day,” Kaiser said in a statement last week. “In addition, our psychiatrists, clinical managers and other Kaiser Permanente licensed physicians have stepped in to meet people in need of care.”