Gov. Jerry Brown (D) yesterday signed a bill to protect seniors in county-run nursing homes during state emergencies. One day earlier, he signed another senior-protection bill, this one to make sure veterans get clearer updates on the cost of their care.
Assembly member Mariko Yamada (D-Davis) authored both bills.
"Our commitment to all issues relating to aging and the long-term care population continues," Yamada said. "We thank the governor for helping make sure greater transparency is available for veterans, and ensuring that nursing home facilities are included in emergency response plans. And at no cost to the state."
The bill signed yesterday, AB 1793, enables counties to access federal funds during emergency medical situations, such as those caused by earthquakes or floods.
"It was really surprising to me that we even needed legislation to achieve this -- but we found [nursing homes] were not part of a plan in event of a natural disaster," Yamada said. "It's something important we can do at no cost. When we found out nursing homes were not included, we had to address that."
The other Yamada bill, AB 1823, was signed by the governor on Monday. It makes sure that those living in veteran's homes receive clear notification of the costs of care in that nursing home. Residents currently do get a quarterly report of costs, but it can look a little misleading, Yamada said.
"It says, 'This is not a bill,' in big letters down at the bottom of the page," Yamada said. "Really, it should say, 'This is not a bill yet.' "
Many families of veterans dismiss the quarterly report because it's not a bill, then are surprised to receive a large bill come due when that veteran dies. That's what happened to one woman whose husband was getting care at Yountville Veterans Home in Napa County, Yamada said, and she wants to make sure it doesn't happen again.
"This widow experienced a great shock when she was asked to reimburse the entire cost of care," Yamada said. "We need to make sure the vulnerable people in our care are fully aware of the cost of care at the time."
Notification of cost of care happens upon admission to a state veterans home, but that's a confusing time for families -- so it doesn't hurt to remind them in those quarterly reports. "Especially as they age and their health declines, both for the veteran and for family members, we need to make sure they understand, so a transparent reminder should be done," Yamada said, "and it can easily be done."
Both laws go into effect Jan. 1.