In March of 2014, Alex Blatt, 70, and his brother-in-law, Murray Deustch, filed a lawsuit against Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Georgia for the poor mental health care services Mr. Blatt received from Kaiser. As a result of Kaiser’s inadequate care, in March of 2012, Mr. Blatt had a “psychotic episode in which he killed his wife Eva and attempted to commit suicide by slashing his wrists.” (Source: Blatt v. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Georgia, Inc.)
Two separate class action lawsuits have been filed against Kaiser for denying patients access to mental health services. These lawsuits serve to underscore the severity of Kaiser’s mental health violations.
The first lawsuit, filed by the firm of Siegel LeWitter Malkani, alleges that Kaiser’s systemic denial of mental health services was the contributing factor in the suicide of a Kaiser patient. It also states that two of the named plaintiffs were forced to pay thousands of dollars in out of pocket costs in order to get the care that Kaiser should have provided them.
The second lawsuit, filed in Southern California, states that Kaiser undertook the “illegal practice of systematically denying weekly psychotherapy to its members.” The lawsuit highlights NUHW’s 2011 complaint to the DMHC that detailed Kaiser’s substandard mental health services.
The Department of Managed Health Care, one of the state agencies responsible for regulating Kaiser, is currently conducting a follow-up survey of Kaiser Permanente to determine whether or not the HMO is complying with state law. In June of 2013, the DMHC fined Kaiser $4 million for violating multiple provisions of state law, including California’s Timely Access Regulations and the California Mental Health Parity Act. The DMHC’s investigation was triggered by a complaint filed by NUHW in November of 2011 in the form of a 35-page report entitled, “Care Delayed, Care Denied.”