SACRAMENTO — Following an Assembly joint hearing on caregivers on March 13, Assemblymember Mariko Yamada (D-Davis), chair of the Assembly Aging and Long-Term Care Committee, announced legislation to support and improve nursing homes.

The three measures together preserve important resident rights, clarify nursing homes’ roles in public emergencies, and strengthen the program that trains, examines, and licenses nursing home administrators.

“Nursing homes may not be the first choice to receive care for many, but it is often the only choice,” said Yamada. “Nursing homes are part of our continuum of care and residents who reside in them are often unable to speak for themselves. We have a duty to these residents and to the tax payers to assure that this health care resource is making the highest and best use of the dollars going into them.”

Yamada’s legislation seeks reform from multiple angles. First, AB 1710 makes a long-needed fix to the Nursing Home Administrator Program to ensure financial resources are adequate to oversee licensed nursing home administrators (NHAs).

The second bill, AB 1752, enhances enforcement of the right of nursing home residents’ to return to their nursing home after a short hospitalization.

Finally, AB 1793 improves how local governments can use federal dollars to respond to the needs of at-risk populations during emergency medical situations – such as an epidemic or flood – where the demand for acute hospital care may surge beyond hospital capacity or people may not be able to get to an acute care hospital. The bill addresses inconsistencies in law and explicitly allows local emergency planners to include nursing homes in their planning and response efforts.

Nursing homes receive over $7 billion a year, mostly in public funds, to care for many of the state’s most medically complex and frail citizens. There are approximately 1,225 licensed nursing homes in California. As many as 300,000 Californians receive care in them during the course of a year.

Most residents spend less than three months in a nursing home, but 7% are residents for more than one year. In 2012, the reported average cost per patient was about $226 per day, or $82,500 annually.

ABs 1710, 1752 and 1793 will all be heard by the Assembly Health Committee in the coming months. AB 1752 will also be heard by the Assembly Aging and Long-Term Care Committee.

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