Sacramento — On March 8, 2006, California’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee unanimously voted to order an audit of the deeply troubled Licensing and Certification Division of the Department of Health Services. Senators Alquist, Cox and Ortiz sought the audit following two informational hearings that revealed the Division is disregarding California nursing home reform laws, delaying nursing home complaint investigations and rarely using its enforcement authority to sanction abuse and neglect.
The audit will be conducted by the State Auditor’s Office.
The audit approval comes on the heels of a critical February 23, 2006 report by the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) that says California’s nursing home oversight system suffers from serious weaknesses, including a failure to detect deficiencies during inspections, poor follow-up when problems are discovered, a lack of enforcement of state standards and a drop in staff productivity. The analysis of the Licensing and Certification Division is part of the Legislative Analyst’s (LAO) report, Analysis of the 2006-07 Budget Bill, that is available at the LAO website.
California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) submitted detailed testimony (PDF, 197kb) to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee and urged the performance review. CANHR expressed concern that California nursing home residents are endangered by Licensing and Certification’s continuing neglect of its duties. Due to its disregard of California nursing home reform laws, nursing home residents are being denied many hard fought rights and protections enacted during the last twenty years.
In October 2005, CANHR sued the California Department of Health Services (DHS) to seek enforcement of California laws requiring timely investigation of nursing home complaints. The lawsuit charges the Department of Health Services with pervasive failure to investigate complaints within the mandatory 10-day response time as required by California law. The case is pending in San Francisco Superior Court.
“We commend the Legislature for approving the audit,” said Patricia McGinnis, CANHR’s Executive Director. “The Licensing and Certification Division has lost sight of its mission and the people it is supposed to protect. It is failing its most basic duty to protect nursing home residents from abuse and neglect.”