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⭒ News & Notes Archive

September 2021

In this Issue

Please send letters urging Governor Newsom to sign AB279 into law

Residents of skilled nursing and intermediate care facilities throughout the State came one step closer to a reprieve on August 31, when AB 279 was enrolled in the state legislature.  The bill, which would provide a temporary stay of involuntary discharges from these facilities during the period of the COVID-19 state of emergency, still faces one final hurdle—Governor Newsom’s desk. Residents and family members who would like to urge the Governor to sign this important safety net for elders and disabled people should submit letters of support to as soon as possible. You can download a sample support letter HERE.

Nursing Home Improvement and Accountability Act Introduced in U.S. Senate

On August 11, Senator Ron Wyden, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Bob Casey, Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, and several other senators introduced the Nursing Home Improvement and Accountability Act of 2021. The bill aims to increase transparency, accountability and oversight in nursing homes, improve staffing and support innovation in the structure and culture of nursing homes. Among its many provisions, it would require updated staffing studies to be conducted and used to set minimum staffing requirements, mandate a registered nurse to be present 24 hours a day, and ban use of pre-dispute arbitration agreements in nursing homes and related settings. CANHR supports this important legislation. You can learn more about it by reading the legislative text, a bill summary, and a section-by-section summary of the bill.

New Vaccine Mandates

As a new surge attributed to the Delta variant takes hold throughout the State, nursing home residents and their families may be relieved to hear that California and the federal government are issuing a series of new orders requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for health care workers and visitors.

The new state order, issued August 5, mandates that employees of hospitals, nursing homes and other medical facilities have until September 30 to get their first dose of a one-dose regimen or their second dose of a two-dose regimen. The new rule permits exceptions only for religious reasons or for certain rare medical conditions.

California also ordered visitors to hospitals, skilled nursing homes and facilities for the developmentally disabled to be fully vaccinated or show a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before each visit. The order applies only to indoor visits and took effect on August 11.

The new federal policy, unveiled August 18 and scheduled to be formally released in mid-September, will require that nursing home staff be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition for those facilities to continue receiving federal Medicare and Medicaid funding.

The New and Much Improved Health and Safety Code Section 1418.8: Health Care Decisionmaking for Unrepresented Nursing Home Residents in 2021 and Beyond

Eight years after CANHR filed a lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of Health and Safety Code Section 1418.8 (“Section 1418.8”), California finally has a better law for balancing the health care needs and rights of “unrepresented” nursing home residents. Unrepresented residents are those who have diminished decisionmaking capacity and lack a surrogate decisionmaker. For nearly thirty years, these residents were essentially at the mercy of nursing home staff members to decide what care they would receive or not receive, including the withdrawal of life sustaining treatment. 

Podcast: How to Advocate for a Loved One Labeled “A Bad Fit”

CANHR Staff Attorney Tony Chicotel is featured on a new podcast from the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care discussing long term care facility residents who are labeled “a bad fit.” Residents and their advocates often feel shame and impotence about dementia-related behaviors and are hesitant to address the failures in care that cause such behaviors.  In the podcast, Tony talks about raising expectations for dementia care and exercising residents’ rights to care that maximizes their comfort and quality of life.  The podcast is part of a series to help people pursue good long term care.

Licensing by Clerical Error: How the State’s Mistake Decided the Course of two Nursing Homes

So reads the headline of a highly disturbing CalMatters article about the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issuing licenses by mistake to a nursing home operator it has found in other instances to be unfit. The August 19, 2021 article involves two Los Angeles area nursing homes – Country Villa South Convalescent Center and Country Villa Los Feliz Nursing Center – that have histories of poor care and, according to a CalMatters analysis, are in the top 4 percent of nursing homes statewide with the highest numbers of resident deaths due to COVID-19. Making matters worse, CDPH reaffirmed the licenses after learning of its clerical error, demonstrating once again that it is in the grasp of the nursing home industry.