For Immediate Release
October 5, 2021
Governor Newsom Signs Assemblymember Kalra’s Bill to Hold Negligent Nursing Homes Accountable
AB 323 comes on the heels of disproportionate deaths in skilled nursing facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic and addresses regulatory accountability for negligence
SACRAMENTO –Yesterday, Governor Newsom signed AB 323, authored by Assemblymember Kalra, which makes long overdue enhancements to the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) enforcement authority to better hold nursing homes and other long-term care facilities accountable for regulatory violations that lead to a resident’s injury or death.
According to CDPH, there have been over 9,000 COVID-19-related deaths of residents in California long-term care facilities which make up less than 1 percent of the population – representing an unimaginable 14 percent of COVID- 19-related deaths in the state. COVID-19 has not only disproportionately affected nursing home residents, but has revealed underlying problems such as understaffing and mismanagement that existed before the pandemic.
“We must do everything we can to protect our most medically fragile and those with developmental disabilities living in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Too often poorly performing facilities are allowed to shield themselves from regulatory accountability, but AB 323 will better position our state regulators to enforce serious violations so future residents can enjoy a higher quality of care” said Assemblymember Kalra. “I am thankful Governor Newsom has signed this long-needed bill.”
“We have investigated deaths involving extreme negligence—untreated pressure sores, gross medication errors, choking, even catching on fire—and yet the facilities took advantage of the prior law to avoid responsibility. AB 323 will protect seniors and people with disabilities in California’s nursing homes by creating better oversight and accountability. We thank Assemblymember Kalra for his courage and persistence in renewing this legislation, and thank the Governor for signing it into effect,” said Andy Imparato, Executive Director with Disability Rights California, the bill’s sponsor.
CDPH is responsible for acting upon quality-of-care deficiencies and investigating suspicious deaths and injuries of residents in long-term care facilities, including skilled nursing facilities. However, under current law, the “direct proximate cause” standard for issuing “AA” citations is confusing and undefined. This, in turn, makes it difficult for CDPH to issue and defend such citations. AB 323 updates this causation standard to the clearer and more established “substantial factor” legal standard. Additionally, AB 323 effectuates a 2017 State Auditor recommendation to increase citation penalties, which have not kept up with inflation.
AB 323 is the culmination of a multi-year effort, sponsored by Disability Rights California and coauthored by Senator Stern (D-Los Angeles).
Assemblymember Ash Kalra represents the 27th District, which encompasses approximately half of San Jose and includes all of downtown. He is the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment and also serves as a member on the Housing and Community Development, Judiciary, Transportation, and Water, Parks, and Wildlife committees. For more information, visit https://a27.asmdc.org/.