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Real RCFE Reform or Window Dressing?

As we go to press, some of the bills in the RCFE Reform Act of 2014 are dead, a couple were signed by the Governor and will become law, and some are still up in the air or, more accurately, on the Governor’s desk. Who knows whether the Governor will sign them? The Governor has given no inclination that he is even aware that there are major problems in California’s assisted living/RCFE facilities. The paltry $7 million+ allocated to the Department of Social Services’ Community Care Licensing in this year’s budget is a mere drop in the bucket given the massive budget cuts to DSS over the last decade and the resulting abuse and neglect of residents and the systemic problems faced by Community Care Licensing. If the Governor really cared about reforming RCFEs in California, he’d make sure to allocate the funds to the Department of Social Services to do the job they are mandated to do.

The thirteen bills that made up the RCFE Reform Act of 2014 were introduced by a bipartisan group of legislators following multiple media reports that revealed widespread abuse and neglect of residents and poor state oversight by the Department of Social Services (DSS). Some of the bills aimed at improving care in facilities: new training requirements for staff, increased penalties for poor care, and creating a resident bill of rights.

“If the Governor really cared about reforming RCFEs in California, he’d make sure to allocate the funds to the Department of Social Services to do the job they are mandated to do.”

Other bills moved to enhance RCFE supervision by DSS: mandating annual inspections, enhancing investigations of consumer complaints, and creating an on-line information system so the public could compare facilities. Both approaches were considered necessary to improve the lives of RCFE residents.

When the bills imposing DSS changes (AB 1554 – Skinner), (AB 1571-Eggman) (SB 895-Corbett), failed in their final legislative committee test on August 14, the state message regarding RCFE Reform became clear: there will be no fundamental changes in the Community Care Licensing system. File a complaint? Well, you’ll still have to wait until CCL is good and ready to investigate it – a minimum of 90 days, and sometimes a year or more. Want to select an RCFE from the 7,500 licensed RCFEs in California? Good luck with that, since an RCFE on-line consumer information system is not likely any time soon. Think it’s a good idea for the state to inspect RCFEs once a year rather than once every 5 years? Too costly, so too bad.

Regardless of whether the remaining bills are signed into law, RCFE Reform is notably incomplete without significant changes to DSS oversight. The tragedies widely reported by the media last year were enabled by failures in state supervision that will now go uncorrected by the legislature. As RCFE reform limps to the finish line, 174,000 residents of RCFEs are left wondering when the administration is going to figure out that it is both part of the problem and a critical part of the solution.


For the current status on all of the RCFE Reform bills, see the Legislative Update in this issue and track the bills on CANHR’s web site at www.canhr.org.

Page Last Modified: September 4, 2014