- Published on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 01:30
- Written by Greg Hartwell
As chairwoman of the California State Assembly’s Aging and Long-Term Care Committee, Mariko Yamada (D-Davis) knows a lot about the needs of the state’s seniors.
Yamada introduced a bill two years ago that would provide simple, affordable and effective licensure for and mandate state oversight of the home care industry, which provides care to seniors who remain in their homes as they age.
Yamada’s bill failed to pass the Appropriations Committee in 2011 because the state was under severe financial pressure. But she reintroduced the bill in the current legislative session and strongly believes that now is the time for California to implement such a measure to protect the surging number of seniors who choose the home care option. California is among the minority of major states that do not require some form of regulation.
The proposed Assembly Bill 322 – the Home Care Services Act of 2013 – passed through the Assembly Committee on Human Services in April and heads to that same Appropriations Committee for a review of the fiscal impact of the bill.
With the state’s senior population projected to increase 80 percent in the next 20 years, we need sensible regulations in place now. The bill has received broad support from both consumer and home care industry groups, including California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, the California Association for Health Services at Home, the California Commission on Aging and Homecare California.
The bill proposes that homecare agencies be regulated under the Department of Social Services, which currently oversees similar industries like residential care for the elderly. The bill would require licensure of the state’s roughly 1,700 home care agencies and mandatory background checks (most likely fingerprinting) for all agency aides. Aides would need to pass tuberculosis testing and minimum training requirements. The bill would also require:
• Biannual licensure of agencies, with a stiff penalty of $400 per day for violators.
• Background clearance of both business owners and all home care aides.
• Department of Social Services investigation into complaints filed against home care organizations.
• Maintenance of valid workers’ compensation coverage and an employee dishonesty bond.
As the owner of a home care agency based in Los Altos, I support this bill because it puts consumers and seniors first.
The 1,700 agencies in California like mine will bear considerable costs for licensing fees and implementing the protections, but they are necessary. My agency already provides many of these safeguards, but we need these regulations to be a requirement.
It’s time for California seniors and their families to be able to expect a certain level of protection when hiring any agency operating in the state. This bill takes a sensible first step by balancing the need for protections without driving up the costs of care or imposing overly restrictive regulations on the industry’s ability to attract and retain qualified employees.