/ Assisted Living
Long Term Care
/ Financial Abuse
|Find Elder Abuse Attorneys in CA|
Who Will Protect the Residents?
As the budget woes of California grab daily headlines, and the Governors May revised budget estimates a $38.2 billion budget gap, legislators and policy makers are scrambling for ways to save money. Large cuts in Medi-Cal benefits and rates are still on the table (see page 30 for details). Going unnoticed, however, are the current and proposed reductions in oversight and enforcement for long term care facilities in California.
DHS/Licensing and Certification
The quality of enforcement at L&C has been deteriorating for years. Rather than being a pro-active consumer protection agency, the current L&C will often wait until a facility has closed and residents have died and then issue numerous citations that will never be paid. While the Department continues their quarterly meetings with the nursing home industry, meetings with advocates have been consistently cancelled. Take a look at the following:
Approximately 11,373 complaints about nursing homes were filed in 2002. The average consumer must wait 7 months or longer for DHS to complete its investigation and send a final report to the complainant, if the complainant receives one at all. Over 66% of the complaints are found to be unsubstantiated not because there was not a legitimate complaint but by the time the investigation is initiated, witnesses are gone, documents are missing or the resident is dead.
20,492 deficiencies were issued against California nursing homes in 2002. Many of these deficiencies caused actual harm to the residents, but only 619 citations were issued less than half the number that were issued in 1995.
The DHS/L&C has failed to implement laws that were passed years ago that would assist consumers in choosing facilities and that would protect their rights at admission.
Department of Social Services/Community Care Licensing
Under current law, the Department of Social Services is required to conduct annual surveys of adoption agencies, foster care agencies, group homes, adult residential care facilities, and residential care facilities for the elderly. The current budget proposes elimination of the annual survey of these facilities and to prioritize inspections of high-risk facilities.
Of course, the problem is that there is no way of identifying a high-risk facility if there is no inspection of the facility. With 6,300 RCFEs in California, who will protect our residents?
Protecting Residents Rights
Clearly, the only segment that benefits from the current lack of enforcement and oversight is the long term care industry. Meanwhile the assisted living industry and the nursing home industry continue their political propaganda campaign to diminish the rights of residents to sue for abuse and neglect in their facilities. With limited oversight of nursing homes and virtually no oversight of residential care facilities, how convenient for the industry if residents lose the only remedy they have the right to sue for abuse.