The Mental Health Parity Act, Senate Bill 221, took effect in July and requires health insurers to provide return appointments for mental health and substance abuse patients no more than 10 days after a previous session.
The American Psychological Association recommends weekly therapy for people with depression — double that for those with post-traumatic stress disorder.
This month-long strike is about patient care. Kaiser therapists want the organization to provide the same level of care for mental health as they do for medical services, according to a statement from NUHW.
The striking therapists have now missed several paychecks as they hold on to their terms.
“We will continue to strike until Kaiser stops gambling with patients’ lives and works with therapists to create a system that provides patients with the care they need to get better,” Kimberly Hollingsworth said. Horner, therapist for Kaiser in Fresno.
Hollingsworth-Horner, who also works on the bargaining committee, said going a month without pay was ‘difficult’ but ‘nothing’ compared to the months-long wait between therapy sessions. patients have endured for years.
California fined Kaiser $4 million in 2013 for delayed and denied mental health care, but wait times for mental health care have not improved.
NUHW said on a strike fact sheet that Kaiser has failed to increase its workforce despite an increase in demand for mental health care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In fact, Kaiser appears to be hemorrhaging clinicians: the union says 377 left the company between June 2021 and May 2022 in the Northern California region. More than 660 have quit, company-wide.
A NUHW survey of more than 200 departing clinicians found that 80% found their workload unsustainable and 70% cited the inability to “treat patients according to standard of care and medical necessity”.
Rather than resign, clinicians on the picket lines are working to change the way Kaiser runs his mental health service.
Melody Bumgardner, a psychologist who works at Kaiser Santa Clara and the Campbell satellite, has worked for Kaiser for 22 years and said the organization had better working conditions in its first decade working there, but the conditions and turnover have deteriorated in recent years.
“When I started working here, we used to be full,” Bumgardner said on the picket line outside Kaiser San Jose Thursday. “Before, it was difficult to find a job at Kaiser. People wanted to work here and people stayed for a long time. five years. years.”
Bumgardner said she’s stayed with the company for so long because she enjoys working with the “diverse population” of patients she sees and the relationships she’s built with colleagues over the past two years. decades. She also wants to see real change, for Kaiser to use its “enormous resources” to provide timely mental health services to its members.
“We are standing up to Kaiser with this strike and standing up for patients who have been denied adequate mental health care for too long,” said Jeffrey Chen-Harding, a licensed clinical social worker for Kaiser in San Francisco.
Despite Wednesday’s deadlock, Kaiser declined to schedule additional bargaining sessions with the union and no further talks are currently scheduled. Kaiser officials were not immediately available to comment on the latest negotiations with the union.