Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Kaiser Permanente Blows Smoke; NUHW Lands Body Blow

Remember the saying, “It's not the size of the union in the fight, but the size of the fight in the union”?

Well, on Monday, 4,000 of NUHW’s members launched a week-long strike against Kaiser Permanente across California to protest the HMO's chronic understaffing of its mental health services and the horrible impact on patients, including tragic suicides.

The strike -- which NUHW says is the largest strike by mental health professionals in the nation-- is quite remarkable.

NUHW’s members are giving the U.S.'s biggest HMO a run for the money… and have already left their multi-billion-dollar employer with a black eye and a bloody nose!

In response to workers’ strike, media outlets have published more than a thousand stories about Kaiser's underfunded and failed mental health services. Three elected officials have stepped forward with accounts about how their family members committed suicide after Kaiser delayed their access to mental health care.

Kaiser, now playing defense, is running daily full-page ads in newspapers across the state along with a steady flow of radio ads in a desperate effort to repair the damage.

So why has Kaiser blundered so badly?

According to observers, Kaiser's fatcat executives decided to ignore the well-documented problems affecting their mental health services and instead proceeded to carefully insert their heads even deeper inside the posterior end of their gastrointestinal tracts.

Kaiser's John Nelson
One of Kaiser's chief idiots is John Nelson, the Vice President of Brand Management. 

Before joining Kaiser, Nelson worked as "a strategic communications professional” for Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the utility that was fined $1.4 billion for killing 8 people and blowing up multiple city blocks in a firestorm that resulted from PGE’s greedy refusal to fix its leaky, underground natural gas pipes.

Nelson, like a rabid "climate denier," loves to issue vociferous denials of any criticism of Kaiser's mental health services... even though, just four months ago, Kaiser paid a $4 million fine to state regulators for multiple mental health violations, including imposing lengthy illegal appointment delays on patients and falsifying appointment records by employing a parallel set of books.

Last month, SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan delivered one of his more pathetic performances by working hand in hand with Nelson to spout Kaiser's corporate talking points against Kaiser's patients and workers. 

Yesterday, an award-winning columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle penned a piece that sent Nelson's head spinning. It turns out the columnist, Jon Carroll, is a Kaiser member and has personally had problems with the HMO's mental health care. Carroll skillfully clowned Kaiser for its dishonest media campaign by publishing a column entitled: "This Just In: Patients Know Stuff Too."

Carroll writes:
...some of us are not ordinary outsiders -- some of us are Kaiser members. We watch the bureaucracy yawn and shift. We understand the virtues and hate the flaws. And here's a true thing: Kaiser mental healthcare facilities are really not very good.
He goes on to describe his own experiences at Kaiser and then launches a frontal assault on Nelson’s bald-faced lies:
So Kaiser can throw around as much smoke as it can find. It already paid a fine for its scheduling practices. The paucity of its mental health services is pretty well known locally. If it's going to consciously gut the programs, it should just say so and move on. But it can't pretend that black is white.

For more info, here's a link to photos and news coverage of the strike on NUHW’s website.