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⭒ News & Notes Archive

September 2014

In this Issue

Upcoming Events

RCFE Reform Act of 2014 Bills Signed into Law

Governor Brown has signed a number of bills aimed at increasing protections for residents of California’s 7,500+ Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFEs).
As of Tuesday, September 30, the Governor has signed a total of ten (10) bills that were part of the RCFE Reform Act of 2014.  The RCFE Reform Act of 2014 was introduced in response to several scathing investigative reports about the failures in oversight and enforcement regarding California’s Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly, and the scandal at Valley Springs Manor in Castro Valley, where 19 elderly residents were abandoned by the care home’s owner/licensee. The reform bills focused on improving RCFE care, empowering residents, and providing DSS with some new tools to ensure compliance with regulatory standards.

According to Pat McGinnis, Executive Director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, “These laws cannot right the wrongs that were committed against so many RCFE residents over the past years, but they do provide the Department with some better enforcement tools, provide for basic statutory resident rights and provide a path forward to ensure that protecting the health and safety of RCFE residents is a priority.”
Click here to read the complete press release.

The Governor Vetoes SB 1124, While Onerous Recovery Regulations Proposed

CANHR is more than saddened that Governor Brown decided to veto SB 1124 (Hernandez). This bill would have offered great relief for many Medi-Cal beneficiaries who worry about losing their family homes.  While the short term savings – $15 million according to the Governor’s budget folks – amount to less than .05% of the overall Medi-Cal budget, the long term consequences of this veto include the destabilization of low income communities, who are the primary targets of Medi-Cal recovery. Forcing the children of Medi-Cal beneficiaries to sell the family home or to sign “voluntary liens” at annual 7% interest rates is simply bad public policy. The Governor’s veto message offered some hope, however, noting that “Allowing more estate protection for the next generation may be a reasonable policy goal.” We agree. It is not only a reasonable policy goal, but an imperative one, and we will work with the co-sponsors of SB 1124 in the next legislative session to achieve that goal.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health Care Services, Medi-Cal Recovery Unit, has released new proposed regulations that make it even more difficult to escape recovery. The primary changes have to do with the exemption or deferral of recovery for registered domestic partners, but there are a couple of onerous changes, particularly elimination of the 90 day timeline for hardship decisions. (§50963 (f))

Elimination of the 90-day timeline leaves no timeline at all. This means that a person can wait up to three years for a hardship decision and be unable to settle the estate.

Comments are due by October 27, 2014.

Click here to read the proposed regulations. The proposed changes are underlined or stricken.

The 70% Left Behind

On September 19th, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced its new goals for reducing antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes. Touting the 15% reduction in antipsychotic use in nursing homes since 2011, CMS wants antipsychotic use to decline by 30% from 2011 levels by the end of 2016. For the tiny fraction of nursing home residents who will benefit from the new CMS goals, the announcement is good news. For the 70% of residents – more than 250,000 individuals – who will continue to be drugged with antipsychotics and other chemical restraints, the announcement is yet another abandonment. The marginal CMS goals send the message that most antipsychotic drug misuse is tolerable. In response to CMS’s weak goals, several leading resident advocacy groups, including CANHR, have called for much stronger action.  
Read CANHR’s response to CMS here.

Upcoming Events

Senior Health and Resource Fair – Newark

Date: October 7th
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Location: Silliman Activity Center, 6800 Mowry Ave, Newark, CA

CANHR will spearhead a booth providing information about Medi-Cal, Medi-Cal Recovery and other long-term care topics.
Bring your Medicare Health Insurance Card for verification and eligibility. There will be free refreshments, free health screenings, and free flu vaccinations!
Contact the Newark Senior Center for more information at (510) 578-4845.

22nd Annual Senior Resource and Wellness Fair – San Jose

Date: October 23rd, 2014
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Location:  Timpany Center, 730 Empey Way, San Jose, CA 95128

An information fair for seniors, their caretakers, adult services professionals and the general public. This fair is a one-stop-shop for information, resources, screenings, interests and activities available to older adults. CANHR will be in attendance and will have printed materials to distribute to attendees. Parking and admittance is free to the public.