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Kaiser Therapists: Strike Is About Complying With the Law

The HMO needs to hire more clinicians to ensure that patients wait no more than the legally mandated 10 days between appointments, says veteran therapist.




California’s SB 221, a law meant to ensure mental health patients receive therapy on a timely schedule, went into effect in July. The law was sponsored by the National Union of Healthcare Workers, whose Kaiser Permanente members in Northern California have been on strike since Monday, Aug. 15. (Disclosure: NUHW is a financial supporter of this website.)  

Kaiser says it is “bargaining in good faith” to reach an agreement, but Jane Kostka, a Sacramento psychiatric social worker participating in the strike, says the HMO will have to hire many more therapists if it is to comply with the law. Cutting patient wait times and keeping therapists’ caseloads at manageable levels are the fundamental issues in the strike, Kostka says. 

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