Elder Affairs Committee Advances Long Term Care Bill
Boston – Wednesday, May 11, 2022 – Rep. Thomas M. Stanley (D-Waltham) and Sen. Patricia D. Jehlen (D-Somerville), Co-Chairs of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs, are pleased to announce a favorable committee report on legislation to improve the quality and oversight of long-term care in Massachusetts. An Act to Improve Quality and Oversight of Long-Term Care 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.
“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. Stanley. “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. Jehlen. “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.”
The legislation draws from 20 long-term care proposals before the Committee in addition to testimony gathered over five hearings, discussions across countless stakeholder meetings, and years of internal and external advocacy. It 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 Department of Public Health’s (DPH) suitability standards; and providing DPH with additional tools to monitor and take punitive action on facilities. Provisions in the bill also include:
· 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 4 years;
· Mandates long-term care facilities to develop Outbreak Response Plans to utilize 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 non-medical 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.