California Stalls Three Assisted Living Overhaul Bills

Three bills that would have increased regulatory oversight of assisted living communities in California, along with creating a more detailed consumer database on every licensed facility in the state, have all failed to advance in the state’s Legislature. 

Of the 16 bills on the table for California’s Senate Appropriations Committee, only two have made it to the desk of Governor Jerry Brown so far. While there are still a good share of bills still swimming, three notable pieces of legislation have already been sunk.

The first of which is AB 1571, a bill introduced by Assemblywoman Susan Eggman (D-Stockton) that would have created a more extensive database of assisted living communities in the state to be accessed by consumers. 

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Existing state law requires the Director of the Department of Social Services (DSS) to establish an automated license information system on past and present licensees of residential care facilities for seniors. 

AB 1571 would have required the department to post on its website profiles of residential care facilities, with facilities submitting profiles of resident characteristics to DSS on an annual basis. Such data would include the number of residents in the facility who are bedridden, non-ambulatory, those receiving hospice care, have one or more health conditions, or have dementia, among other criteria. 

Eggman’s bill, which received just seven votes from the Senate Appropriations Committee, was placed on the committee’s suspense file. 

Joining the bill in suspension is AB 1454, legislation introduced by Assemblyman Ian Calderon (D-Industry).

While existing law requires DSS to request a fire clearance and notify an applicant to arrange a time for the department to conduct a survey prior to licensing, Calderon’s bill would subject facilities to an annual, unannounced visit by department inspectors.

This would have applied to community care facilities, residential care facilities for the elderly, child day care centers and family day care homes. 

Reason as to why the bill might have been sunk could be due to a provision that would have changed the inspection frequency for each type of facility, the underlying costs of which could amount to $20 million, according to local news KQED of Northern California. 

“We must make sure that our most vulnerable citizens are properly cared for,” stated Calderon in May, when AB 1454 passed the Assembly Floor. “There has been a growing number of incidents reported in facilities across California which have led to dangerous situations for our elderly and children and we have to do more to ensure their safety.”

Lastly, the third bill (AB 1554) placed on the Appropriation Committee’s suspense file relates to the way DSS investigate complaints regarding assisted living facilities. 

Specifically, AB 1554 would have prohibited DSS from giving a licensed facility advance notice of investigation regarding a complaint, and would have required the department to conduct an onsite investigation within one working day of receiving a complaint from an assisted living facility that alleges physical abuse, sexual abuse or other threat of imminent danger, according to the bill’s text. 

Existing law requires DSS to review a complaint and conduct an onsite inspection within 10 days. Additionally, AB 1554 would have required investigations to be completed within 30 days.

Together, the three pieces of legislations in suspension were part of a larger initiative, a package of bills known as the RCFE Reform Act of 2014 sponsored by advocacy group California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform.

However, despite the failed legislation, the two bills that have already made it to the governor’s desk include one that mandates liability insurance for all assisted living facilities (AB 1523) and another that mandates operators to allow and support resident and family councils at communities (AB 1572).

Both bills have since been approved by Governor Brown and subsequently chaptered by California Secretary of State Debra Bowen (D). Each of the bills were supported by industry group the California Assisted Living Association.

Written by Jason Oliva

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