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By Jenny Gold

California insurance regulators announced Tuesday that they have reached a settlement  with Kaiser Permanente to address its repeated failures to provide patients with timely access to mental health services.


Under the agreement — the result of two years of negotiations between the state Department of Managed Health Care and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan — Kaiser has agreed to hire an outside consultant for three years to help it address the access problems and improve oversight of its behavioral health program.


The agreement also acknowledges steps the plan has already taken to improve access, including hiring 850 additional behavioral health therapists in the past five years. (Kaiser Health News, which produces California Healthline, is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.)