Hearings Address Enforcement of Nursing Home Standards
Sen. Elaine Alquist (D-San Jose) said she plans to introduce legislation to increase funds for more nursing home inspectors and will continue to hold hearings on the enforcement of care standards in nursing homes, the Sacramento Bee reports.
The Senate hearings are investigating whether licensing officials are enforcing less-strict federal care standards and why the state has investigated only half of nursing home complaints within the required time frame, the Bee reports.
Last week during a joint hearing of the Senate Committee on Health and Subcommittee on Aging and Long-Term Care, Brenda Klutz, chief of Licensing and Certification at DHS, said state law was changed and no longer requires surveys to enforce state care standards. Klutz said that a lack of staff impedes the department's ability to enforce the stricter state standards -- which require 3.2 hours of nursing care per patient per day -- but that citations would be issued for violations found during federal inspections.
Klutz said that the licensing division inspects facilities every 12 to 15 months and that 91% of the most serious complaints against nursing homes were investigated within 24 hours. Fifty-one percent of less serious claims were investigated within the required 10 days, Klutz said.
Klutz said that the licensing division's budget has not increased in five years and that 80 inspector jobs were eliminated between 2001 and 2004. She added that the division has had trouble providing information requested by the state because the computer system is out of date. In addition, the division is having trouble complying with a state law that requires DHS to publish inspection data because funding for the job was not provided under the law.
Sen. Dave Cox (R-Roseville) said he would request, along with Alquist, an audit of the licensing division by the state auditor general (Weaver Tiechert, Sacramento Bee, 11/14).