State Representative Kate Lipper-Garabedian joined her colleagues on the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Elder Affairs to provide a favorable report on H.4780, An Act to improve quality and oversight of long-term care, which takes a comprehensive approach to regulating the long-term care industry and addressing needed reforms in transparency and oversight. The omnibus bill also seeks to provide additional workforce supports and sets the stage for further innovation and development of alternative models of care. On May 16, the Massachusetts House of Representatives referred H.4780 to the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Health Care Financing.
“Long-term care facilities are a critical component of the Commonwealth’s continuum of care, providing essential services to the elderly, those recovering from an illness or operation, and those with intellectual disabilities,” said Rep. Thomas Stanley (D-Waltham), the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs. “This bill will enhance quality of care to residents, ensure accountability for nursing home operators, and improve staff recruitment and retention.”
“The pandemic made public the need for overdue changes in long-term care: adequate funding coupled with higher standards and accountability; recruitment, training, and retention of qualified staff; and more person-centered care,” said Sen. Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville), who is the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs. “This bill is a response to needs stressed in the Nursing Facility Task Force. We are delighted to move forward this comprehensive bill, along with other bills addressing the entire continuum of care.”
“I am glad to advance this critical legislation, having worked on and supported it throughout this legislative session,” said Rep. Lipper-Garabedian (D-Melrose), who is the House Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs. “This bill will improve the quality and oversight of care, support residents, and bring further dignity to the workforce. Supporting our elder affairs workforce has been a key theme in the Committee’s efforts this session and was central in the Community Conversation I hosted last year …with a panel of elder affairs experts.”
To view Representative Lipper-Garabedian’s December 2021 Community Conversation, please visit https://tinyurl.com/KLG-EACC.
H.4780 draws from 20 long-term care proposals before the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs in addition to testimony gathered over five hearings, discussions across countless stakeholder meetings, and years of internal and external advocacy. H.4780 also builds off the 2020 Nursing Facility Task Force Report, responding to several remaining needs, including establishing career ladder grants and student loan forgiveness programs, strengthening and enhancing the suitability standards of the Department of Public Health (DPH) and providing DPH with additional tools to monitor and take punitive action on facilities. Some additional provisions in the bill:
- Directs DPH to streamline regulations for small house nursing homes
- Increases penalties that can be sought by the Attorney General in instances of abuse and doubles the statute of limitations to four years
- Mandates long-term care facilities to develop Outbreak Response Plans to use in the event of future infectious disease outbreaks
- Directs DPH to establish and implement a training and education program for facilities and staff regarding best practices and frequent deficiencies
- Requires facilities to develop policies to prevent social isolation with special consideration given to those with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other disabilities
- Codifies lengths of time for medical leave of absences and nonmedical leave of absences for long-term care residents to ensure continuity of care
- Directs the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) to issue an annual report examining cost trends and financial performance across the nursing home industry
- Directs the Health Policy Commission (HPC) to conduct an analysis of nursing personnel and staffing requirements in long-term care facilities and issue a report by June 1, 2023.