A once-in-a-century pandemic yielded a once-in-a-generation chance for reform. The California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) recently introduced the 2021 Nursing Home Protect Plan to state legislators and agencies to improve long-term care. For the first time in years, nursing home residents have multiple champions in the state legislature fighting for better care.
The commitment of so many great legislators like Senator Stern and Assembly Members Muratsuchi, Jones-Sawyer, Kalra, Nazarian, and Reyes, proves the need for reform is genuinely compelling. The plan, which includes an unprecedented sequence of bill and budget proposals, seeks to change the way nursing homes are bought and sold, how they treat their residents and staff, and how they are deterred from misconduct through a series of seven bills.
- SB 650 (Stern): Corporate Transparency in Elder Care. Requires nursing homes to submit audited consolidated financial reports, so the public can see how much of its tax dollars are spent on care for residents and how much is spent on “related party” businesses the nursing home owns or controls.
- AB 279 (Muratsuchi): Prohibiting Resident Eviction During the Pandemic. Prohibits intermediate care homes or nursing homes from terminating services to residents or from transferring a resident to another facility without consent during any declared state of emergency relating to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
- AB 323 (Kalra): Nursing Home Citations. Provides a long-overdue inflationary boost to nursing home citation penalties and updates the criteria for AA citations (those that cause the death of a resident) from the old “direct proximate cause of death’ standard to the clearer “substantial factor” standard.
- AB 749 (Nazarian): Certification of Nursing Home Medical Directors. Requires nursing home medical directors to be certified by the American Board of Post-Acute and LongTerm Care Medicine.
- AB 849 (Reyes): Nursing Home Resident Rights. Restores facility liability to up to $500 for each violation of a resident’s rights, undoing last year’s awful Jarman v. HCR Manorcare decision, which held that nursing homes could violate as many resident rights as it wants for $500.
- AB 1042 (Jones-Sawyer): Related Party Accountability. Establishes shared liability for entities that share ownership or control of nursing homes. Related parties will be liable for unpaid state monetary penalties for citations and due Quality Assurance Fees.
- AB 1502 (Muratsuchi): Nursing Home Ownership and Management Reform. Establishes suitability standards for persons and entities seeking to run nursing homes and ends nursing home squatting, where persons or entities run nursing homes with no approval from the state.
But introducing bills and pushing proposals is just step one of a long journey to improving care. Most of the bills will be vehemently opposed by the nursing home industry, which will be singularly focused on getting yet more taxpayer dollars while evading more scrutiny for all the mistakes they have made over the years, and primarily during the pandemic.
Despite an unprecedented lockdown to protect residents, nursing homes were not up to the task due to years of cutting corners on infection control and other essential health care practices. Chronic understaffing borne of low pay and low morale for staff and owners focused on taking care of their pocketbooks over taking care of residents.
And as a result of this long-standing buildup of greed and neglect, over 9,000 California nursing home residents and staff members have died from COVID-19. Don’t let these deaths be in vain! Please join us and support the incredible reform efforts already underway. To counter the inevitable onslaught of opposition, nursing home reform will need public engagement like never before.
If you wish to be part of the movement, here are some ways to help:
Write to the key legislative committees, call into committee hearings, and talk to your State Assembly Member and Senator to make sure they are committed to reform. Be on the lookout for CANHR’s legislative alerts, which will rally support and opposition for proposals as needed. Check out ww.canhrlegislation.com to stay up-to-date on the status of the reform efforts.
And last but not least, report any possible case of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect. If you live in Southern California, we invite you to have a free legal consultation with one of our attorneys to see what we can do for you.