NURSING HOMES: ‘Major Overhaul’ Bill Passes Assembly with Flying Colors
On a vote of 67-5, the Assembly yesterday passed a nursing home reform package that would increase penalties for safety violations but increase state funding of facilities in the coming years. The bill, AB 1160, raises the maximum penalty for the most serious safety violations from $25,000 to $50,000 -- significantly lower than the proposed $100,000 fine that had met with resistance from the California Association of Health Facilities. It also calls for a new reimbursement system to be developed by the Department of Health Services over the next two years. While most nursing home patients are currently covered by a flat Medi-Cal rate of $88 per day, the new system would base reimbursement based on individual patient needs (Capps, Sacramento Bee, 9/9). Other provisions include:
- Requiring residents to have a "minimum of 3.2 hours a day of nursing care by April 2000, increasing by 0.1 hour each year through 2003" to a total of 3.5 hours per day. The current ratio is 2.8 hours per day.
- "Increasing classroom training for nurse assistants from 50 to 60 hours," including instruction in caring for patients with dementia such as Alzheimer's disease. The bill would also raise CNA pay rates 5% above their current $7 per hour wage.