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On-Line Consumer Information on Residential Care Facilities Legislation Introduced

Sacramento––AB 1571, authored by Assembly Member Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) will be heard in the Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday, April 29, 2014.

Despite extraordinary advances in technology, despite the fact that California is a leader in the technology movement and despite the rapid growth in the sheer number of licensed Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly, the Department of Social Services does not post any comparative or informative information on their Residential Care website, other than the number of beds, the address of the facility and a “contact” person. Under the current system, if a consumer wishes to find out more than the sparse information available on the Community Care Licensing website about California’s 7,500+ RCFEs, they are required to drive miles to one of the CCL District Offices to look at a facility file.

Background information on new applicants for RCFE licenses is not cross-checked with other licensing agencies, and ownership information is not available to the public. For example, the owner of Valley Springs Manor in Castro Valley, who abandoned 19 RCFE residents to the care of a part-time cook and janitor, had a previous history of hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines owed to the federal and state licensing agencies for deficiencies and citations when she owned four California nursing homes. Yet, she was able, ten years later, to apply for and be granted licenses to run RCFEs. Had Community Care Licensing known of her history with the Department of Public Health, her RCFE licenses would not have been granted.

Assembly Member Eggman’s bill, AB 1571, part of a comprehensive package of bills called the RCFE Reform Act of 2014, would require that DSS/CCL establish an on-line RCFE Consumer Information system to include specified, updated and accurate license, ownership, survey and enforcement information on every licensed RCFE in California with components to be phased in over a five (5) year period ending June 30, 2019. This information will include deficiencies, complaints, civil penalties assessed and collected, inspection reports and plans of correction, among other information. AB 1571 would also require complete disclosure of ownership and prior ownership of any type of facility, including health facilities and nursing homes, and any similar entity in other states, including history of compliance or non-compliance and require cross check with DPH.

According to Pat McGinnis, Executive Director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), the sponsor of the bill, “AB 1571 will ensure that consumers are provided the information necessary to make informed choices about residential care in California.”

CANHR is a statewide long-term care advocacy and service organization, established in 1983.