Nursing Homes Pay Small Portion of Levied Fines
California nursing homes and special-care facilities have paid less than half of almost $12.6 million in fines assessed by the state Department of Public Health for various violations, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
Federal and state laws permit facilities to appeal the fines, which do not have to be paid until the cases are resolved, the Press-Enterprise reports. Facilities also can resolve the fines by paying a portion of assessment in lieu of an appeal.
Consumer advocates say the unpaid fines have depleted a state fund used to hire temporary managers to improve care at troubled facilities or relocate residents from homes that close. In June, the Legislature added $3 million to the fund because of a lack of money to pay the temporary managers.
Advocates also have raised concern that the fund has depleted at a time when more facilities have received "AA" citations, which involve the death of a resident and are the most severe citation issued.
So far in 2007, the Department of Public Health has issued 18 AA citations, compared with 10 in 2006 and 12 in 2005.
Ken August, a spokesperson for the public health department, said the number of citations indicates that the department is being diligent in its monitoring of facilities.
Mike Connors of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform said, "The numbers would speak well of enforcement but wouldn't speak well of nursing home care in California" (Hines, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 12/12).