By Stephanie O’Neill, KPCC:
The California Department of Managed Health Care has fined Kaiser Permanente $4 million for failure to provide timely mental health care to patients.
A 2012 survey by state health officials found 40 percent of Kaiser’s wait times exceeded 14 days – too long, officials said, for someone who needs help now.
The penalty was levied under a first-in-the-nation law on timely access that allows enforcement actions to take effect before anyone has been harmed, according to Health Access California, which sponsored the 2002 legislation.
Kaiser Permanente, the state’s largest health care provider, said in a statement that it has been “fully engaged for more than a year” to improve its timeliness in providing initial, non-urgent appointments and has already corrected nearly all of the problems cited in the 2012 survey.