An important struggle over home health care is playing out in California, the nation’s most populous state, including nearly five million residents age 65 and older.
Unions and organizations representing the elderly have joined together to push for legislation that would license agencies, certify workers and create a publicly accessible caregiver registry. Home care agencies are pushing back, saying they favor regulation but oppose the measures under consideration. The legislation, Assembly Bill 1217, has already passed the State Assembly and was passed out of the State Senate’s appropriations committee on Friday. It will be up for a vote on the Senate floor next week.
An estimated 1,400 home care agencies and 120,000 paid caregivers would be affected by the proposed legislation, which is essentially an effort to bring consumer protections to an industry that has been likened to the Wild West. “It’s just not right that I can check the license status of an air-conditioning repairman but I can’t do so for someone coming into my home to care for a loved one,” said Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, a Democrat and the bill’s sponsor.
Currently, a business license is all that is required in California for organizations that offer home care, defined as nonmedical services for the elderly who need help using the bathroom, dressing, bathing and performing other basic tasks.
That leaves older adults and their families without the means to check...