NURSING HOME REFORM: Legislature Likely to Pass Bill
The California Legislature will likely pass a bill today that would strengthen the Department of Health Services' role in supervising California's 1,400 nursing homes, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The measure was sponsored by Assembly member Kevin Shelley (D-San Francisco). Last year, Shelley sponsored a stronger version of the bill that was vetoed by Gov. Gray Davis (D) because of controversial language that required nursing homes to increase staffing. The new bill includes "dozens of changes" to the current system, including: quadrupled fines for nursing homes convicted of causing the death of a resident; a requirement mandating that the state must respond within 24 hours to "the most serious complaints about care;" and increased staff training hours. In addition, Shelley's new bill orders the Department of Health Services to stagger the schedule of annual inspections "to better gauge day-to-day living conditions" and allows inspection findings to affect state licensing. The bill also enables the department to appoint a temporary manager at nursing homes found to be "endangering the lives of [their] residents" and allows a new owner to take over if a nursing home fails to meet requirements within six months.
The Sign of a Compromise
Judy Citko, vice president of the California Healthcare Association, said, "There's no party [who is] 100% happy with the bill and no party who is 100% unhappy with it. That's the sign of a compromise." State Sen. John Vasconcellos (D-Santa Clara) said that the bill is "not nearly all it could be, but we pushed the rock halfway up the hill. We had a great bill last year but the governor vetoed it." However, Shelley described this year's measure as a "wonderful start" (Lucas, 8/23).