Calif. Legislative Committees Advance Assisted-Living Reforms
On Tuesday, legislation aimed at improving care at assisted-living centers across California was approved in multiple committees in the state Legislature, U-T San Diego reports (McDonald, U-T San Diego, 4/8).
The package of bills came in response to a recent investigation conducted by U-T San Diego in partnership with the California HealthCare Foundation's Center for Health Reporting. CHCF publishes California Healthline.
After analyzing 7,000 state records of assisted-living center inspections, the investigators identified a variety of problems that mostly were caused by:
- Poor patient oversight; or
- Lack of training for staff.
To remedy some of the problems outlined in the investigation, lawmakers proposed a dozen bills -- collectively known as the RCFE Reform Act of 2014 -- that would overhaul residential care facilities for the elderly (California Healthline, 1/14).
Comments From Lawmakers
According to U-T San Diego, most of the testimony during committee hearings on Tuesday supported increased regulations over assisted-living centers in the state.
Assembly member Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) said, "If we're going to be licensing facilities, then those licenses have to mean something."
In addition, Sen. Marty Block (D-San Diego) expressed support for a bill in the package that would provide regulators more flexibility in their budgeting, noting that the goal was to avoid "micromanagement" of assisted-living facilities.
Comments From Advocates
Advocates also largely supported the measure, according to U-T San Diego.
Eric Carlson, an attorney with the National Senior Citizens Law Center, said, "It's hard to overemphasize how important ... the inspection process is. Relying on complaints is unrealistic."
Aaron Byzak, the grandson of a woman who died after staff at an assisted-living facility failed to respond to her injuries, said the reforms "will allow consumers to make educated decisions about where to live themselves or where to place beloved family members."
However, some trade groups had concerns about portions of the legislation package.
For example, the California Assisted Living Association withheld its support on one of the proposals because it did not give specific information about how funds would be raised and spent (U-T San Diego, 4/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.