NURSING HOMES: State Legislators Convene To Discuss Reform
California lawmakers met yesterday to outline plans to revamp the state's nursing home system after prodding from the American Association of Retired Persons and a scathing General Accounting Office report issued last July. During the five-hour hearing, experts called for a number of changes, including an increase in staffing levels and salary hikes for nursing home workers. "We have a window of opportunity now," explained Assemblywoman Elaine Aliquist (D-Santa Clara), who co-chaired the hearing with state Sen. John Vasconcellos (D- Santa Clara). The Sacramento Bee reports that lawmakers are open to revising the flat, $88-per-day federal and state reimbursement payment system in favor of one which pays caregivers "based on the acuity of care an individual patient needs." Nursing homes are pinched to stretch the flat fee to pay for "virtually all aspects of care, regardless of how much help the patient needs," according to the Bee. The hearing also focused on enforcement of nursing home quality standards as both "the GAO report and grass-roots advocates have been critical of the state Department of Health Services and its ability to discern and regulate poorly performing facilities." New DHS Director Grantland Johnson "sat silently" through much of the hearing, but he vowed "to fight for reform," saying, "We have the ability to set a new course and the ability to indicate to the public we have a different interest, a different sense of responsibility and urgency" (Brown, 1/20). Click here for recent CHL coverage of nursing home reforms.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.