KPSC-NUHW Psych-Social Chapter Employees. Kaiser Permanente Summary of Key Proposals.

June 26, 2019

To our valued Mental Health Professionals and Registered Nurses,

The contract proposal that is currently out to you for consideration is as important to us as it is to you. We’ve been at the Bargaining Table for almost one full year. Our most recent discussions have yielded what we consider significant progress to address your concerns. We are disappointed by the recommendation of your union for you to reject the proposal which our bargaining teams did together and as a result, postpone the improvements that need to be made immediately.

As we shared in our letter to each of you, we hear your concerns about workloads and patient return access. We need a contract to move forward on addressing these critical things. We’ve heard that the union doesn’t trust that management is sincere in improving workloads and patient access. Therefore, to demonstrate our commitment, we are moving forward with bringing in relief staffing through temporary positions and agency resources – despite not knowing the outcome of the ratification vote. We have also accelerated recruitment strategies to fill our 75 open positions. We will also be adding new Psychotherapist FTEs over the coming months above and beyond those open positions. There is much more we need to do that is provided in our offer but can’t without your approval of the contract.

We see the joint six-month intensive workgroup as being a factor in our effectively addressing the growing demand for mental health care services in the future. If we are to more effectively meet the demand, we must collaboratively rethink and redesign our model of psychotherapy. As a result of this work, we will bring more patients back to receiving care by Kaiser Permanente therapists instead of community-based providers, and that will drive the hiring of even more Kaiser Permanente therapists going forward.

The current offer under consideration addresses most of your personal and professional interests and will relieve many of your immediate concerns and daily challenges. It includes significant, meaningful provisions to address staffing, scheduling, and compensation.  It is also accompanied by several initiatives we are undertaking to recruit and retain the best mental health professionals.  We are also looking at what facility expansion is necessary to accommodate this planned growth.

We urge you to vote in favor of ratification of the proposal, so we can all move forward.

For your reference, we’ve included information that highlights the benefits of our offer. You also can view this information online at https://www.kpscalfyi.org/home/.

Thank you for your dedication to our patients and the work you do every day. Together, we will work to improve mental health care, make Kaiser Permanente the employer of choice for mental health professionals, and develop a model that can benefit the entire nation.

Sincerely,

Julie Miller-Phipps
president, Southern California Region Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals
Annie Russell, RN, MSN, MBA
chief operating officer, Southern California Permanente Medical Group

Summary of Kaiser Permanente Key Contract Proposals for the
Psych/Social Chapter
(*Items listed are subject to bargaining)

Addressing Staffing and Access Concerns
We will immediately address the strain that has been placed on your daily office practice due to the rapid increase in demand for appointments, combined with staffing shortages and space constraints in several of our service areas. We also have initiatives and bargaining proposals that will address mid- and long-term staffing and access challenges, described below.

We will immediately address the strain that has been placed on your daily office practice due to the rapid increase in demand for appointments, combined with staffing shortages and space constraints in several of our service areas. We also have initiatives and bargaining proposals that will address mid- and long-term staffing and access challenges, described below.

Immediate Relief
Within 30 days of contract ratification, we will increase staffing with temporary agency resources and therapists where available to assist with return access. We will also increase staffing with temporary agency psychiatric RNs for triage where indicated.

Mid-Term Staffing and Return Access Proposals

  • We will expand the number of recruiters and staff working exclusively on filling mental health and wellness care positions.
  • We will provide office practice support with appointment clerks, clerical resources and extender roles to reduce the administrative burden of scheduling/rescheduling/appointment confirmation and related clinical correspondence and paperwork as indicated.

New Job Classifications*

  • Two new classifications have been proposed: Developmental Psychologist and Neuropsychologist. Both classifications will be paid 5% above the current Psychologist wage scale. Also, an additional 5% differential will be paid to Neuropsychologists who obtain and provide proof of valid Neuropsychology board certification.

Long-Term Staffing and Return Access Proposals

  • As we are challenged with an increased demand for services, we will continue to increase our supplemental staffing resources including temporary, on-call and agency personnel where indicated.
  • We will evaluate retention and turnover data, focusing on attrition in less than two years. We will also launch a National/Regional recruitment campaign focused on mental health care jobs.

Adding Space and Improving Office Environments

  • We are accelerating capital investments where possible to more rapidly expand the number of therapist offices, group rooms, and telepsychiatry seats.  We are also accelerating the refresh of our existing mental health treatment environments.

Designing the Future of Mental Health Care

  • Our Joint 6-Month Intensive Workgroup: We all agree that to address the growing demand for mental health care we need to advance the existing model of care, and we must do it together. That’s why it’s so exciting that we have reached agreement in bargaining to convene a collaborative,
    6-month access and innovation intensive workgroup to assist in advancing design of the psychotherapy model of care with a specific focus on improving our internal capacity to provide therapy, and to develop innovative approaches on using feedback informed care, case conferencing, caseloads, and treatment planning.
  • Increased Patient Engagement: We will increase engagement with our mental health patient advisory council, which provides input into the design of patient and family care experiences, and consultation on initiatives to improve mental health service.
  • Grants to Fund Clinical Research: We will commit $6 million to support research by our California mental health professionals that promotes evidence-based treatment and improved outcomes in mental health care.
  • Communication: We are also putting in place direct to clinician communication and innovative interactive digital strategies to elicit your ongoing feedback and keep all of you informed of our commitment and actions in your professional area of practice.

Increasing the Number of Mental Health Professionals, and Recruiting and Retaining Therapists
We will commit substantial resources – $50 million over three years – to increase the number of people entering, developing, and remaining in the mental health professions, and also make Kaiser Permanente the preferred place for them to deliver care and grow their skills and knowledge.

  • Existing Student Loan Repayment Program*: To help recruit new professionals and acknowledge those already working in mental health care, we have proposed a loan repayment program for existing .80 FTE employees and new hires who are currently carrying student loan debt. Those with loans related to their bachelor’s or master’s degree would be eligible for $2,500/year up to a $10,000 lifetime repayment. Doctorate level participants would be eligible for $5,000/year up to a $20,000 max.
  • Covering Future Education Costs: We will provide 75% tuition coverage at KP partner educational institutions to help employees pursue master’s and doctorate degrees in mental health professions, and for existing mental health professionals to pursue master’s and doctorate degrees in clinical practice.
  • New Graduate Fellowship and Residency Programs: We will create post-graduate Fellowship and Residency programs for new graduates in degreed mental health professions, and expand our master’s practicum and post-doctorate programs, through our university relationships, to attract students with the ultimate goal of employment at Kaiser Permanente.
  • Expanding College Degree Programs: We will commit $10 million in charitable grants to educational institutions statewide to expand capacity in mental health professional careers, with an emphasis in graduating bilingual and/or diverse students that reflect community need.

Industry Leading Compensation
We are offering a combination of wage and benefits increases that ensure you will receive continued market leading compensation. Our offer includes*:

  • Wages: We are proposing combined pay increases/across-the-board wage increases for the Psych-Social Bargaining Unit of 3% (retroactive to October 2018), and 2% for the next two years, for a total of 7% ATB increases over the term of the contract, coupled with 1.5% lump sum payments for active and part-time and full-time employees in 2019 and 2020. This would total more than $23,500 for LCSWs earning the median wage, and $29,000 for psychologists at the median.
  • Psychiatric RN Adjustment: We are offering market adjustments to wage scales for Psychiatric Registered Nurses to align with the wage scales of other SCAL nursing professionals
  • Incentive Pay: We are offering up to $5,000 per year in annual performance bonus, for a total of $15,000 over the life of the contract.
  • Ratification Bonus: Active full- and part-time employees will receive a 1% ratification bonus within 60 days after the ratification date (or as soon as administratively possible).
  • Retirement Plan: In addition to the existing employer contribution of 6% to the Employee Defined Contribution plan, effective 1/1/21, employees will be eligible for an Employer match of your contribution, up to 3% of your salary. So, if you contribute 3%, the net effect would be a 12% annual contribution to your retirement savings.
  • Active & Retiree Medical: Effective 1/1/2020, we have offered to increase the retiree medical Health Reimbursement Account by $1,000 per year of service from $1,000 to $2,000.
  • Alternate Mental Health*: Effective January 1, 2020, the Alternate Mental Health coverage will increase from 50% to 80% of reasonable and customary charges, inclusive of both inpatient and outpatient, with no maximum number of visits.
  • Dental Benefits: To bring you to parity with other professionals, we are proposing increases to the annual dental maximum and child lifetime orthodontics maximum to $1,500.
  • Tuition Reimbursement: We are proposing to increase tuition reimbursement from $2,500 to $3,000 with $750 of the total usable for travel. This is in addition to the new tuition and loan payment programs we are also putting in place, described above.
  • Shift Differentials: Our additional proposals to bring you to parity with other professionals include increases to certain evening (32 cents) and night ($1.50) differentials, and standby.

Developing a Shared Understanding
We will also commit to work together to gather and analyze data related to Kaiser Permanente jobs and pay rates, develop a common understanding of this data relative to the market, and review our findings together ahead of the next round of bargaining. We remain committed to competitive pay that allows Kaiser Permanente to continue to be an employer of choice while improving affordability and delivering high-quality care and service.

We believe this combination of business initiatives and bargaining proposals described above is the largest investment made by a healthcare organization in the country and is reflective of Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to improving mental health care over the term of this agreement. With your help, we will lead the nation in mental health, through early detection and evidence-based treatment across a full continuum of care settings.

* An asterisk means this item is subject to bargaining.

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