AB 2079 Heard in Appropriations on August 1st

A bill introduced earlier this year that would require the California Department of Public Health to develop regulations creating Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) staff-to-patient ratios in skilled nursing facilities by July 1, 2017 has passed out of the Assembly after being significantly amended on the Assembly Floor.

Furthermore, the bill would have increased the minimum number of required nursing hours per patient day from 3.2 hours to 4.1 hours, with staff-to patient ratios that reflected 2.8 hours for CNAs and 1.3 hours for licensed nurses.

The author of the bill, Assemblymember Ian Calderon, amended the bill on the Assembly floor to eliminate the provision that would have established CNA staffing ratios, while keeping the provision to increase the minimum number of required nursing hours per patient day (NHPPD) from 3.2 hours to 4.1 hours. The bill now phases in the implementation of the 4.1 NHPPD over two years, starting with 3.5 NHPPD in January 2018 and 4.1 in January 2019.

Under the provisions of this bill, eligible skilled nursing facilities would still be disqualified from receiving their Quality and Accountability Supplemental Payment (QASP) should the facility be out of compliance with the staffing requirements in this bill for even one day. The QASP program provides additional reimbursements for eligible facilities to implement quality improvements.

We were mildly surprised that AB 2079 was passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee this year, as the annual costs to the state’s General Fund was estimated to be $70 million by the California Department of Finance. It should be noted that AB 2079 had much more broad support among labor groups that last year’s similarly constructed bill SB 779.

AB 2079 will be heard in the Senate Health Committee on Wednesday, June 22nd at 1:30pm.

LeadingAge California continues to opposes AB 2079 due to the numerous concerns surrounding implementation issues, adequate workforce concerns and tying the increased staffing requirements to QASP eligibility.