On September 29, 2006, the California Department of Health Services (DHS) issued an All Facility Letter announcing that it is suspending the use of the Standard Admission Agreement until it and related regulations are revised to conform to an August 10, 2006 court order in Parkside v Shewry, a lawsuit filed in San Diego Superior Court by the California Association of Health Facilities (CAHF) and three individual nursing homes. Prior to its suspension, all California nursing homes had been required to use the Standard Admission Agreement since January 2, 2006.
A 1997 CANHR co-sponsored law, SB 1061, required DHS to establish and implement the Standard Admission Agreement by January 2000. The purpose of the law is to give residents and their representatives peace of mind that the agreement they sign at admission protects their rights and does not expose them to unexpected costs or illegal liability provisions.
Although the nursing home industry lawsuit has temporarily succeeded in halting use of the Standard Admission Agreement, the court dismissed most of the key nursing home objections to it. Superior Court Judge Charles Hayes denied CAHF’s claim that it violated their constitutional rights and found that both its arbitration agreement provisions and bill of residents’ rights are consistent with California law. Judge Hayes did find fault with certain provisions of the Standard Admission Agreement, including its release form and its terms on refunds, posting of inspection reports and notice of room transfer. DHS is modifying these terms and presumably will reissue the Standard Admission Agreement in the near future.
The suspension of the Standard Admission Agreement returns nursing home applicants to the predicament they faced before its implementation. Upon admission to a nursing home, they will be required to sign an agreement written by the nursing home. In years past, these agreements often contained deceptive or illegal terms.
Important California and federal consumer protections governing nursing home admission agreements remain in place. These protections are described in CANHR’s fact sheet on Nursing Home Admission Agreements. Call CANHR if you need additional information.