Sunday, August 4, 2013

Spotlight on NUHW and SEIU-UHW at Kaiser Permanente

SEIU's Dave Regan: In Kaiser's Pocket

Last week offered a revealing "compare-and-contrast" between the unions at Kaiser Permanente.

On the one hand, news emerged that SEIU-UHW is working hand in hand with Kaiser’s executives to push an invasive “biometric monitoring” program (aka, “wellness program”) on SEIU’s members.

What’s next? 

Tasty wouldn’t be surprised if Dave Regan lets Kaiser do weekly urine tests on all of SEIU-UHW’s members!

Meanwhile, NUHW is scoring impressive victories in its fight against Kaiser’s short-staffing and shoddy patient care. A month ago, NUHW won a $4 million fine against Kaiser for understaffing its mental health services and forcing patients to wait weeks and weeks to get basic care.

The $4 million fine is the second largest in the agency’s entire history.

Then, last week, NUHW announced that Kaiser’s violations have apparently disqualified it from participating in California’s new public insurance market under Obamacare. According an NUHW letter posted below, Kaiser has violated a key provision of the health benefit exchange’s rules.

And that’s not all. NUHW also filed a complaint with California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris after Kaiser tried to discipline an NUHW member for simply writing “Patient should be seen sooner” in a patient’s medical chart. It’s a stunning story… which is now under investigation by the Attorney General for alleged violations of whistleblower protection laws.

Here’s how NUHW described it in a letter to the Attorney General:

On July 17, 2013, Kaiser disciplined one of its licensed psychologists after he made a clinical note in a patient’s medical chart indicating that this first-time patient needed more rapid access to Kaiser’s services. The psychologist evaluated the patient via a telephone triage assessment and discovered that the clinic’s first available appointment was more than three weeks later. Under California’s Timely Access regulations, HMOs are required to offer patients non-urgent mental health appointments within ten business days of the patient’s request for an appointment.   In disciplining the psychologist, Kaiser claimed that the psychologist’s clinical note – which stated “patient should be seen sooner” – was “a political statement.” Kaiser has announced it will now monitor the notes that the psychologist places in patients’ medical charts during the next three months. 

Here's NUHW's letter to California's health benefit exchange: