NURSING HOME REFORM: Measure Sails through Both Houses
In the "whirlwind final days of [its] two-year lawmaking session," the California Legislature yesterday passed a "multifaceted measure" to strengthen oversight of the state's 1,400 nursing homes, the Los Angeles Times reports. The bill, the result of "complex negotiations" among Gov. Gray Davis (D), Republicans and Democrats, would quadruple to $100,000 the fine for nursing home violations that contribute to a patient's death. That increase is twice what a similar bill last year called for. The new measure also would improve training for nursing home staffs and increase California's reimbursement rate for treating elderly patients (Bustillo, 8/24). The measure, AB 1731, cleared the Senate on a bipartisan 30-3 vote and the Assembly on a bipartisan 65-2 vote. Assembly Majority Leader Kevin Shelley (D- San Francisco) spearheaded the reform effort "after witnessing his mother's experience in a nursing home." He said, "As a last resort, when our parents and loved ones have to go into that facility, then let's assure that it's not only safe in terms of the bare minimum of the law, but also a nurturing and helpful environment." Although Shelley received broad support for his measure, the California Healthcare Association, which represents hospital-based skilled nursing facilities, opposed the measure because of "concerns that the increased maximum fine could force some smaller, rural facilities to close." But Judy Citko, vice president of the organization, acknowledged that AB 1731 "is a balanced bill" (Matthews, Sacramento Bee, 8/24). The bill now moves on to Davis, who is expected to sign it into law (Los Angeles Times, 8/24).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.