State Senate Health Committee Passes Nursing Home Staffing Reform Measure
In an 8-1 vote, the California Senate Health Committee yesterday passed AB 1075, a nursing home reform measure sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Kevin Shelley (D-San Francisco), that passed the Assembly last month, the Contra Costa Times reports. Shelley's bill would mandate a change in the way California nursing homes account for staff members' time with patients, requiring by July 1, 2004, that nurses' aides care for no more than five patients per day shift, 10 per evening shift and 15 per night shift. Currently, the state requires that each nursing home patient receive 3.2 hours of "direct staff care" in each 24-hour period. More than 40% of California's 1,400 homes fail to meet the current staffing standard.
State Senate members, however, "doubted" that the bill could "do enough to address crisis conditions in long term care." Saying that the change in the staff-patient ratio does not "go to the heart" of the state's nursing home crisis, Sen. John Vasconcellos (D-San Jose), a "committee member regarded as a voice for elder care reform," abstained from the vote and called instead for reform of Medi-Cal. Despite agreeing that more staff is needed, the nursing home industry also "continued to oppose" Shelley's bill, with California Association of Health Facilities Chief Lobbyist David Helmsin saying, "We can't compete with other jobs that pay more." Wednesday's vote marked the first action on AB 1075 since the state Department on Health Services earlier this month released a report on nursing home staffing that did not call for increased staffing levels (Peele, Contra Costa Times, 7/12).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.