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⭒ News & Notes Archive

November 2021

In this Issue

Governor Newsom Signs Five of Six Nursing Home PROTECT Plan Reform Bills

In early October the Governor signed into law 5 out of 6 reform bills that respond to the tragic conditions nursing home residents face in California and the growing public awareness during the pandemic that residents are often being neglected, abused, mistreated and exploited.

Known as the PROTECT Plan (Prioritize Responsible Ownership, Treatment, Equity and Corporate Transparency), the reforms are the product of a dedicated group of legislative champions: Senator Henry Stern and Assemblymembers Al Muratsuchi, Eloise Gómez Reyes, Ash Kalra, Reggie Jones-Sawyer , and Adrin Nazarian. For the details of each bill, see CANHR’s full Press Release.

Nursing Home Oversight, or Lack Thereof, Called Out by Legislature

On October 5, the Assembly Health Committee held an informational hearing on nursing home oversight.  Several critical topics for nursing home residents were explored, from ownership and California’s zombie licensing system to the Department of Public Health’s (DPH) weak enforcement and oversight.  Long story short, DPH is not doing its job and its failures contribute to resident harm and misery.

You can watch the hearing, in its entirety, HERE.  Or you can watch attorney Kim Valentine’s testimony on behalf of the Consumer Attorneys of California or CANHR senior staff attorney Tony Chicotel’s testimony separately.

CalMatters and LAist both posted good summaries of the hearing.

U.S. News & World Report Article Critiques Medicaid Recovery System

CANHR’s Executive Director Pat McGinnis, and Advocate Efrain Gutierrez, are featured in a new article by Sarah True from U.S. News & World Report about the Medicaid Recovery program, which often forces people to make the difficult choice between receiving long term care health services, or losing their family home. Mandated by congress, the system is designed to recoup long-term care costs, and is known in California as Medi-Cal Recovery. The article details the stories of families impacted by Medicaid recovery, and outlines how the system disproportionately impacts low-income families and people of color.

CANHR offers education on how to avoid California Medi-Cal Recovery, and options after receiving a Medi-Cal recovery claim. To learn more about how to protect your home from Medi-Cal Recovery, read CANHR’s guide.

Residents Awarded $13.5 Million Following Four-Month Trial Against Parkview Healthcare Center

A California jury sent a strong message to Parkview Healthcare Center in Hayward and Mariner Health Care, its parent company, that chronic understaffing and fraudulent record-keeping will not be tolerated. Ten nursing home residents were awarded $8.9 million in punitive damages on top of $4.6 million in compensatory and wrongful death damages awarded at trial in a lawsuit involving neglect, negligence and repeated violations of residents’ rights. The jury sided unanimously with the residents, finding that the rights violations, neglect and negligence were committed with fraud. At trial, the residents were represented by Susan Kang Gordon of the Law Office of Susan Kang Gordon, Jennifer Fiore of Fiore Achermann, and Jody Moore of Johnson Moore.

Read the Mercury News coverage: Hayward nursing home, parent company must pay almost $20 million for neglecting patients, jury says.

Los Angeles County Office of Inspector General Issues Final Report on Skilled Nursing Facility Oversight and Accountability

On October 12, the Los Angeles County Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a voluminous final report – Improving Oversight and Accountability Within Skilled Nursing Facilities – of a more than year-long investigation triggered by the devastating death toll in LA County nursing homes during the pandemic and the horrific history of neglect in these facilities that goes back decades. The final report tells the story of life-threatening conditions in some nursing homes and inhumane conditions in others, dysfunctional oversight, downgraded deficiencies, complaint investigations being closed prematurely, failure to make required elder abuse referrals, improper backdating of records, complex chain ownership structures and ineffective penalties. 

Some of its 39 recommendations are: establishing a permanent Skilled Nursing Facility Task Force; supporting safe staffing requirements; creating a comprehensive county-wide SNF crisis mitigation and response plan; and revising its Health Facility Inspection Division’s mission statement to prioritize resident health and safety above all else and to commit to transparency, accountability and public engagement. Notably, it also urges the County to support passage of AB 1502 (Muratsuchi), the CANHR-sponsored nursing home ownership reform bill, and to explore setting up its own system to thoroughly screen nursing home owners.

California to Phase in the Elimination of the Medi-Cal Asset Test

This year, historic legislation – AB 470 (Carillo) – was introduced to completely eliminate the Medi-Cal asset test for all non-MAGI Medi-Cal programs. The bill represents a shift away from requiring low-income individuals to spend down all of their resources in order to receive help with paying for healthcare. While AB 470 currently sits with the Senate Appropriations Committee, provisions of the bill were incorporated into AB 133, a budget bill signed into law by Governor Newsom on July 27, 2021.

Under AB 133, the state will phase in an elimination of the Medi-Cal asset test for all non-MAGI Medi-Cal programs over the next two and a half years. While the state must await federal approval of its implementation plan, it is expected that around July 1, 2022, the state will raise the Medi-Cal asset limit for an individual to $130,000, $195,000 for a couple, and $65,000 for each additional family member. No sooner than January 1, 2024, the state is expected to eliminate the Medi-Cal asset test completely. 

CANHR fully supports the effort to eliminate the Medi-Cal asset test. For too long, low income seniors and individuals with disabilities have been forced to spend down their assets in order to receive assistance with paying for healthcare. This leaves many in a precarious position should they experience a financial emergency. In addition, as a home is not counted as an asset for Medi-Cal eligibility, the current asset limits disproportionately impact renters, who do not have access to home equity to fund emergency expenses or retirement. The majority of California renters are Asian, African-American and Latino, therefore a permanent elimination of the asset test will increase equity for communities of color who need support with paying for long term healthcare.