This is a substantial fine, second only to the $10 millions Blue Cross received a few years ago and Kaiser said they would challenge the dollar amount. They also said there were changes currently being made to provide better mental health care. Some of the issues addressed were not seeing patients in a timely manner and not telling patients that long term psychiatric care is not available. In the article one doctor is quotes as saying that he feels Kaiser has not taken mental illness care as seriously as they have physical illness. BD
Imposing the second-largest fine in its history, the California Department of Managed Health Care on Tuesday slapped Kaiser health plans with a $4 million penalty for failing to provide mental health treatment in a timely manner.
The department also issued a cease and desist order to Kaiser, forbidding the health plan from continuing practices in violation of state law, which ensures equal care for mental and physical health.
An investigation that started in 2012 found that Kaiser's written description of its mental health services was so complicated and misleading that it "could dissuade an enrollee from pursuing medically necessary care."
Three months ago, the department released a detailed report saying Kaiser needed to see mental health patients more quickly and improve its public disclosures or face penalties.
Managed Health Care officials said advising patients that long-term psychotherapy is unavailable violates the state's mental health parity law. The law says that mental illness must be treated on par with physical illnesses.
Dr. Andris Skuja, a Kaiser psychologist, offered strong words in reaction to the news of the $4 million fine and cease-and-desist order.
"This action confirms what every Kaiser clinician knows," Skuja said. "Kaiser doesn't take mental health care for its patients seriously."