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California Assisted Living Facility Reform Bills Await Governors Signature

A package of bills aimed to improve oversight over California’s assisted-living facilities currently await Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature. The comprehensive reforms were proposed after a series of investigations revealed widespread mismanagement at residential care facilities.

In one of the most egregious cases, one dozen elderly patients were abandoned at a California assisted living center. The California Department of Social Services ordered the Castro Valley facility to temporarily shut its doors on October 24, 2013. Yet two days later, 14 patients remained with very few staff members to care for them.

To prevent similar incidents, California lawmakers have approved a series of measures intended to improve oversight over the long-term care industry, which include:

  • AB 1899: Operators who have had their licenses revoked or forfeited for abandoning a facility would be permanently ineligible for reinstatement of a license;
  • AB 2044: Facilities would be required to have trained staff on duty at all times, including at least one person who is trained in CPR and first aid;
  • AB 2171: The legislature would adopt a Bill of Rights for assisted-living facility residents;
  • AB 2236: Assisted-living facilities would face stiffer civil penalties for violating regulations. The fine for causing an assisted-living resident’s death would increase from $150 to $15,000.
  • SB 895: Long-term care facilities would be required to fix problems identified during inspections within 10 days in most cases;
  • SB 911: Assisted-living center administrators and staff members would be required to undergo more stringent training; and
  • SB 1153: The state would be authorized to suspend new admissions at non-compliant facilities.

Gov. Jerry Brown previously signed a bill (AB 1572) that requires assisted-living facilities to assist residents in establishing and maintaining a resident council. In addition, Brown also approved legislation (AB 1523) that will require all residential care facilities for the elderly to maintain liability insurance in an amount of at least $1,000,000 per occurrence and $3,000,000 in the annual aggregate to cover injury to residents or guests caused by the negligent acts of the facility or its employees. The new requirement will take effect on July 1, 2015.

Unfortunately, some of the proposed reforms never made it through the California legislature. Most notably, assisted-living facilities will not be subject to yearly, unannounced inspections.