California Senior Care Reform: A Legislative Update
Earlier this year, we shared with our readers the extensive amount of proposed new senior care legislation that was being introduced. The largest package of bills became known as the RCFE Reform Act of 2014 and was sponsored or championed by advocacy groups throughout the state.
The proposed legislation came after public outcry about publicized incidents of elder abuse and neglect in facilities that were subject to state oversight. Concerns ranged from slow response times when complaints were registered to lack of a centralized, consumer-friendly database of facilities.
In a look at where the proposed legislation now stands, there have been both victories and missed opportunities. A total of 16 individual reform bills were introduced, and they are in a variety of stages of passage or failure.
First, the bad news: three major bills that would have increased regulatory oversight of California assisted living communities failed to advance in the legislature and have been essentially tabled by the Senate Appropriations Committee. These include the following:
AB 1571, a bill that would have created an extensive database for California assisted living communities, with accessibility by consumers.
AB 1454, which called for annual, unannounced visits to licensed residential, senior care, and child care facilities by DSS inspectors.
AB 1554, addressed the way in which DSS investigates assisted living facility complaints, including tighter response timelines.
Of the 16 individual bills that made it to the Senate Appropriations Committee, only two have completed passage.
The good news is that several of the bills are still under consideration, and, most importantly, two relevant bills have already made it to the governor’s desk for his signature. These two bills, supported by the California Assisted Living Association, include:
AB 1523, which mandates liability for all assisted living facilities.
AB 1572, which calls for facility operators to allow and promote resident and family councils.
Governor Brown has approved both bills and they have passed to the Secretary of State’s Office for chaptering.
We find the passage of any legislation reassuring when it better safeguards the lives of institutional residents, including those who are medically fragile and elderly.