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Bill Cracking Down on Abuse at Nursing Homes Clears Senate

January 25, 1985|RICHARD C. PADDOCK | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — A compromise bill to crack down on patient abuse in nursing homes was unanimously approved Thursday by the state Senate and sent to the Assembly.

Introduced by Sen. Henry J. Mello (D-Watsonville), the measure would stiffen penalties for negligence in treating patients, while increasing state Medi-Cal payments to nursing homes.

The legislation replaces 11 bills killed last year when Gov. George Deukmejian vetoed a package of nursing home measures.

Mello's bill is the result of a compromise negotiated with the Deukmejian Administration and does not include elements that the governor found objectionable last year.

"What we have here is an agreement we have reached with the Administration," Mello told his colleagues shortly before they voted 36 to 0 to approve the measure.

Later, Deukmejian spokesman Kevin Brett said: "We are pleased by the quick approval of the bill by the Senate and we urge the Assembly to pass the measure in a timely fashion. If the bill remains in its present form, the governor is expected to look upon it favorably."

Widely supported by senior citizens organizations, the original nursing home legislation was prompted by a Little Hoover Commission investigation that found that conditions were deplorable in many of California's 1,200 nursing homes.

Mello's bill would outlaw discrimination against Medi-Cal patients, upgrade the training of state nursing home inspectors, impose fines for falsifying medical records and require the state to publish a list of nursing homes in good standing.

The legislation also would increase state funding for nursing home care of Medi-Cal patients by $8.2 million during the remainder of this fiscal year so that they can meet a higher standard for staffing. Beginning next year, an increase of $44 million would be incorporated in the state budget.

The federal government will match dollar-for-dollar the state funding.

The bill is almost identical to a measure introduced in the Assembly by Democratic Floor Leader Mike Roos of Los Angeles and Republican Leader Pat Nolan of Glendale. The measure has been stalled in the Assembly because assignment of members to committees, including those that must handle the nursing home bill, has not been completed for the 1985-86 session.

Either version would take effect immediately upon signing by the governor.

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