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California Regulators Say Kaiser Still Hasn't Fixed Access To Care Problems

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The California Department of Managed Health Care slapped Kaiser Permanente with a $4 million fine in 2013 for failing to provide timely access to mental health services.

In a new report, the agency said Kaiser has taken steps to track problems with timely access to mental health care.

But officials said Kaiser still hasn’t fixed them.

Jim Clifford, a therapist at the Kaiser clinic in Otay Mesa, said patients have to wait one to two months to get a follow-up appointment.

"That is unacceptable," he said. "For us, as mental health professionals, it’s unethical and we’ve got to have more staffing in order to see patients on a more frequent and more effective basis.”

Kaiser officials maintain they’ve enhanced access to care by hiring additional mental health staff and expanding clinic hours. Officials say they’re committed to improving their services.

In the meantime, union therapists and the HMO are trying to hammer out their first union contract. Kaiser said it wants to work with the union to improve care.