Kaiser Permanente agrees to pay $4M fine for violating mental health laws

Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente has agreed to pay a $4 million fine for failing to provide adequate access to mental health services for its patients, according to a Sacramento Business Journal report.

The fine was levied by the California Department of Managed Health Care in June 2013, and imposed against The Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, which is part of Kaiser Permanente.

In its formal accusation, the DHMC accused the health plan of violating California law by making patients wait excessively long periods between therapy appointments. The DHMC also alleged some patients were waiting more than 14 days for an initial appointment for mental health services.

The DHMC said the health plan's mental health services inadequacies came to light during a routine review in January 2012. The DHMC filed its complaint against The Kaiser Foundation Health Plan in March 2013, after discovering deficiencies were not corrected.

Kaiser had contested the fine saying it was "unwarranted and excessive." However, on Sept. 8, one day before the parties were scheduled to give opening statements in Kaiser's appeal, Kaiser faxed a letter to the court requesting the case be dismissed and agreeing to pay the $4 million fine.

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