Eight Priority Bills Await Governor Brown’s Signature

Last week, the Legislature completed its work for the year, sending hundreds of bills to Governor Brown for his signature.

Among the bills sent to him are eight of particular importance to California families living with Alzheimer’s disease.  Below you can read more about them.

AB 40 (Yamada) – Elder and dependent adult abuse: reporting
This bill establishes various procedures for the reporting, investigation, and prosecution of elder and dependent adult abuse. It requires mandated reporters to report known or suspected instances of elder or dependent adult abuse. It also requires a mandated reporter to report the abuse to the local ombudsperson or the local law enforcement agency if the abuse occurs in a long-term care facility. The bill also authorizes any person who is not a mandated reporter to report such instances.

In instances where the suspected abuse is allegedly caused by a resident with a physician’s diagnosis of dementia, this bill provides an exemption from reporting directly to law enforcement.

The bill received strong bipartisan support in both the Assembly and Senate, and has the support of organizations such as the Congress of California Seniors, California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, the California Long-Term Care Ombudsman Association, and others.

AB 999 (Yamada) – Long-term care insurance
This bill intends to modify the long-term care insurance ratemaking process to protect consumers from excessive rate increases.  The bill outlines various means to 1. Provide consumers with greater information regarding long-term care insurance rates, 2. Have long-term care insurance rates more accurately reflect the actual costs, in order to prevent frequent and sharp premium increases for policyholders.

Among other things, this bill:

  • Requires every long-term care insurer to provide examples of each individual or group policy form it sells;
  • Requires the Insurance Commissioner to post an outline of coverage for each long-term care policy on the Department of Insurance website; and
  • Limits the approval of rate increases to no more than once every five or ten years, depending on the policy.

AB 1525 (Allen and Alejo) – Money Transmission Agents: Training Materials
This bill requires money transmitters to provide their contracted agents with training materials on recognizing and responding to elder or dependent adult financial abuse by April 1, 2013, and annually thereafter.  It also requires money transmitters to provide these materials to newly appointed agents within one month of the new agent’s appointment.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), seniors are often the targets of complex financial fraud schemes.   In California alone, over 1,200 seniors (aged 60 or older) lost a total of $7.1 million via scams involving wire transfers.

This legislation is supported by a variety of organizations, including AARP, the California Senior Legislature, California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, the California Police Chiefs Association, and others.

AB 1747 (Feuer) – Life insurance: nonpayment premium lapse: notice
This legislation provides crucial consumer protections to California families living with Alzheimer’s disease by instituting policies designed to prevent any unplanned termination of life insurance.

This bill establishes notice requirements and grace periods for payment of life insurance premiums.  Specifically, this bill would:

  • Require life insurance policies to provide a 60-day grace period for payment of premiums before terminating a policy;
  • Require insurers to provide written notice of pending lapse and  termination no less than 30 days prior to the termination of a policy; and
  • Require life insurers to provide an applicant with a form to designate additional persons to receive notices regarding pending lapses or termination.

In its amended form, the bill received strong bipartisan support, passing both the Assembly and Senate floors unanimously.

SB 135 (Hernandez) – Hospice facilities
This bill would create a new health facility licensing category for hospice facilities, and would require the Department of Public Health to develop regulations governing licensure of such facilities. The bill would provide that the department may use specified federal regulations as the basis for hospice facility licensure until the department adopts regulations.

Hospice provides patients with team-oriented, quality end-of-life care that helps patients and families deal cope with the dying process.  Furthermore, it provides a cost-saver for patients, their families, and the state.

This legislation has received strong bipartisan support, and in its final form had no registered opposition.

SB 411 (Price) – Home Care Services Act of 2011
This bill establishes the Home Care Services Act of 2012, which requires the Department of Social Services to license private agencies that provide non-medical home care services, and to certify home care aides.  This bill would take effect on July 1, 2013.

After its implementation, non-exempted agencies would be prohibited from providing home care services without first obtaining a license.  The Department of Social Services would provide online information to consumers, including a list of licensed home care aids, their licecsure status and the status of any disciplinary actions against them.

This bill would also require background checks on the owners of home care organizations, and authorize the Department of Social Services to deny a license when a background check reveals a felony conviction that is substantially related to the qualifications of operating their business.

The bill also requires home care organizations to investigate complaints against home care aids made by a client or a member of their family.

SB 1047 (Alquist) – Emergency Services: Seniors
This bill establishes a Silver Alert notification system designed to issue and coordinate alerts to inform the public when a person who is 65 years or older is missing.

Among other criteria, the CHP would be authorized to issue a Silver Alert if:

  • The missing person is 65 years of age or older; or
  • Law enforcement officials believe the person is in danger because of age, health, mental or physical disability, environment or weather conditions, or that there are other factors indicating the person may be in peril.

The bill states that this law would expire on January 1, 2016 unless extended by future legislation.

The bill is supported by multiple organizations, and has received strong bipartisan support in both the Assembly and Senate.

SB 1228 (Alquist) – Small house skilled nursing facilities
This bill creates the Small House Skilled Nursing Facilities Pilot Program in the Department of Public Health.  The pilot program would provide skilled nursing care in a homelike, non-institutional setting in up to 10 pilot centers.

According to the bill, these centers could exist in residential settings, such as apartments, cottages, houses, or similar residential units.  This reflects similar efforts in 21 other states, which have implemented ‘Green House’ homes, where Certified Nurse Assistants provide personal care, meal preparation, light housekeeping and laundry, and more.

Previous efforts have been undertaken by nursing home providers to implement the Green House model, but have been unsuccessful because the model does not fill well with current California law.  This bill would clear the way for such a model to be implemented.

The bill is supported by Aging Services of California, AARP, the California Commission on Aging, California Senior Legislature, Congress of California Seniors, and others.

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