In this Issue
- End of Life Option Law Reinstated
- Stricter Nursing Home Complaint Investigation Timelines Take Effect
- Nursing Homes Evading Increased Minimum Staffing Requirements
- Congress Demands Release of Secret VA Data on Nursing Homes
- The State of the Nation’s Housing
- Nursing Home Violation of the Month
- Nursing Home Residents Threatened by Rollback of Federal Protections
End of Life Option Law Reinstated
On June 19, 2018, the Fourth District Court of Appeals in Riverside issued a stay putting the End of Life Option back into effect. In May of 2018, Superior Court Judge Daniel Ottolia of Riverside County ruled that the law was adopted “illegally” since it was passed during a legislative session that was limited to issues other than assisted suicide. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra appealed Ottolia’s ruling and has worked to reinstate the law.
The End of Life Option Act permits terminally ill adult patients with capacity to make medical decisions to be prescribed an aid-in-dying medication if certain conditions are met. Signed into law by Governor Brown in October 2015, the law went into effect on June 9, 2016.
Stricter Nursing Home Complaint Investigation Timelines Take Effect
The final phase of a 2015 budget law took effect on July 1, 2018, requiring the Department of Public Health (DPH) to complete investigations of nursing home complaints filed on or after that date within 60 days of receipt. Under extenuating circumstances, the completion deadlines can be extended up to 60 days. The Legislature established the completion timelines because of DPH’s historical failures to conduct timely investigations of nursing home complaints. If you have filed a nursing home complaint with DPH, CANHR is interested in hearing from you about the timeliness of DPH’s investigation.
Nursing Homes Evading Increased Minimum Staffing Requirements
Dozens of California nursing homes have filed waiver requests with the Department of Public Health (DPH) to seek exemption from increased staffing requirements that took effect on July 1, 2018. Hundreds more nursing homes are expected to follow-suit so they will not have to comply with the new requirements, which raised the minimum number of direct care nursing hours per resident per day (hrpd) from 3.2 to 3.5 hrpd. The details of the waiver loophole are described in All Facilities Letter 18-16 published by DPH.
Read CANHR’s commentary, A Trojan Horse for Nursing Home Residents: The Insidiously False Promise of the New Minimum Staffing Requirements
Congress Demands Release of Secret VA Data on Nursing Homes
Following a recent USA TODAY and Boston Globe investigation on the poor quality of care at the VA’s 133 nursing homes, several members of Congress are demanding that the Department of Veterans Affairs release nursing home data that the agency has keep secret for years such as rates of injury and infection. Although the investigation and resulting report was based on the VA’s own internal documents, the VA downplayed the findings and called them “fake news.”
Sound familiar? The documents showed that the care at the VA’s nursing homes were worse on average than private sector nursing homes on key quality indicators such as rates of anti-psychotic drug use and resident deterioration. Minnesota Rep. Tim Walz said “Veterans and their loved ones deserve real accountability and transparency at VA, and that is why I am calling on the VA to make all nursing home data, especially key quality indicators such as rates of injury and infection, available to the public immediately.”
The State of the Nation’s Housing
A new report from Harvard University contemplates the coming wave of American seniors: In 2035, households with members aged 65 and older will account for a full third of the homes in the country.
Download the report here.
Nursing Home Violation of the Month
Griffith Park Healthcare Center, a one-star nursing home in Glendale was issued a citation after its administrator dropped off a mentally ill resident at a train station with the idea the resident would be able to somehow purchase a ticket and successfully make a 145 mile trip to a family member’s home. The resident never made it and was found six days later in a faraway city naked and wandering the streets.
Nursing Home Residents Threatened by Rollback of Federal Protections
Since January 2017, the health and safety of nursing home residents have become increasingly imperiled. Nursing home lobbyists have urged the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to eliminate or delay regulations and dramatically reduce enforcement of violations. Unfortunately, CMS has shown a disturbing willingness to follow these lobbyists’ recommendations.
Our partner, Justice in Aging, has created a tracker of industry lobbying and resulting administrative actions, as well as a series of policy alerts providing more detail about the specific protections weakened by industry lobbying. It also created an online version of the tracker and policy alerts on its website.