What We're Reading: Kaiser in Violation; GOP Holdout Votes; Single-Payer Bill Gets Shelved

Kaiser Permanente Could Be Fined Over Mental Health Access

A routine survey by the state of California has found that Kaiser Permanente is failing to provide members with timely access to mental health care, according to California Healthline. The state requires patients with an urgent problem have access within 48 hours and patients with nonurgent issues within 10 business days. This is not the first time Kaiser has been cited for inadequate access to mental health care—in 2013 it paid a $4 million fine and in 2015 the state still found patients were waiting weeks or even months for an appointment.

Fifth GOP Senator Opposes Health Bill

Senator Dean Heller (R-Arizona) has become the fifth Republican senator to publicly oppose the Senate’s health bill, which was released on Thursday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) now has just a few days to negotiate with the 5 senators to ensure at least 3 vote for the bill if he wants to pass the bill before the July 4 recess, reported The Washington Post. Heller faces a difficult reelection in 2018 and his state’s governor is a staunch supporter of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) has not taken a formal stance on how she will vote, but has said she has reservations and is concerned about the deep cuts to Medicaid.

California’s Single-Payer Bill Gets Shelved

A single-payer bill that passed the California Senate is unlikely to come to the floor for a vote in the state Assembly. The New York Times reported that the leader of the state Assembly said the bill is “woefully incomplete.” The bill currently doesn’t outline a way to pay for a government-run health system in California, but it has an estimated price tag of $400 billion per year. The single-payer bill would guarantee healthcare for California residents and eliminate out-of-pocket costs. Although the bill will not come to the floor for a vote, the state Assembly leader doesn’t think it is dead—he encouraged the Senate to draft a new version.