The Assembly Committee on Human Services yesterday voted to approve a bill designed to register and regulate home health care workers.
"An unknown number of independents operate without any oversight or regulation in California," said Gary Passmore, who sits on the board of directors at the California Congress of Seniors. "AB 1217 requires both the owners and aides of the organization to pass a background check and meet basic licensure standards. … And it requires all home care aides … to be certified."
The bill also would publish the names of workers and their occupational data on a public website, a feature that raises privacy concerns for Jennifer Gabales, director of policy, advocacy and public affairs for CAHSAH, the California Association for Health Services at Home.
"This bill would impose online posting of people's names, and locations where they work," Gabales said, "For the 120,000 workers in this industry that is objectionable and counter-productive."
Gabriela Padilla, president and CEO of Absolute Senior Home Care in Chula Vista, said she already runs background checks on all of her caregivers and knows those workers don't want further registration cost and intrusion into their lives, she said.
"I'm concerned for the safety of my caregivers. Being put on a website, where anyone can locate where they work, that's a problem," Padilla said. "A lot of these caregivers are women, and a lot are single women, single mothers, and this poses a security issue. Plus it imposes a cost that has not been determined."
AB 1217 by Assembly member Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) is nearly identical to a bill passed last year by the Legislature and vetoed by Gov. jerry Brown (D) in September. There are some small changes to the legislation, including two words added to the name of the act that would be created by the bill. The Home Health Care Services Act of 2012 now would be the Home Health Care Services Consumer Protection Act of 2013.
"It's important to understand this is a consumer-oriented bill," Passmore said. "We seek to control the bad actors. We think there are very few of them, but there are a number of anecdotal stories" that need to be addressed, he said.
"Right now I can check the license status of an air condition repair person," Passmore said, "but if I want to hire someone to assist a loved one with bathing, I'm at a loss. … This bill is about safety, plain and simple."
The bill passed yesterday on a 5-2 vote. It is the second home health care services bill passed by the Assembly Committee for Human Services in the past two weeks. Last week, the committee approved AB 322 by Assembly member Mariko Yamada (D-Davis), a bill which adds new regulations to the industry and is supported by CAHSAH.