Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/17/1994 09:45 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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                             MINUTES                                           
                    SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                   
                         March 17, 1994                                        
                            9:45 a.m.                                          
                                                                               
  TAPES                                                                        
                                                                               
  SFC-94, #43, Side 2 (200-000)                                                
  SFC-94, #44, Side 1 (000-120)                                                
                                                                               
  CALL TO ORDER                                                                
                                                                               
  Senator Drue  Pearce,  Co-chair,  convened  the  meeting  at                 
  approximately 9:45 a.m.                                                      
                                                                               
  PRESENT                                                                      
                                                                               
  In addition to Co-chairs Pearce  and Frank, Senators Rieger,                 
  and Kerttula were present.  Senator Jacko joined the meeting                 
  after  it was in progress.  Senators Sharp and Kelly did not                 
  attend.                                                                      
                                                                               
  ALSO ATTENDING:   David Gray,  aide to Representative  Jerry                 
  Mackie,  sponsor  of HB  3  and  HB 4;  Pat  O'Brien, Social                 
  Services  Program  Director,  Division  of  Family  &  Youth                 
  Services,  Department  of  Health &  Social  Services;  Fran                 
  Jamison,  Older  Alaskans  Commission,  Division  of  Senior                 
  Services, Department of  Health & Social Services;  and Mike                 
  Greany,  Director, Legislative  Finance  Division; aides  to                 
  committee members and other members of the legislature.                      
                                                                               
  SUMMARY INFORMATION                                                          
                                                                               
  SCSHB 3(JUD):  An   Act  relating   to   public  home   care                 
                 providers;  and  providing  for an  effective                 
                 date.                                                         
                                                                               
                 David  Gray,  aide  to  Representative  Jerry                 
                 Mackie, sponsor of HB 3, testified in support                 
                 of  the bill.   Pat O'Brien,  Social Services                 
                 Program Director, Division  of Family & Youth                 
                 Services,  Department  of  Health   &  Social                 
                 Services, spoke to the Department's concerns.                 
                 Discussion was had between  Senators Kerttula                 
                 and Rieger regarding home  care providers and                 
                 the  vulnerability  of  some elderly  people.                 
                 Fran  Jamison,  Older   Alaskans  Commission,                 
                 Division  of  Senior Services,  Department of                 
                 Health & Social Services, spoke in support of                 
                 HB 3.   HB  3 was  REPORTED OUT  of committee                 
                 with a "do pass," with a  fiscal note for the                 
                 Department of Health & Social Services  #0259                 
                 for $15.0,  and zero  fiscal notes  for   the                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
                 Department of Health & Social Services #1629,                 
                 Department of Safety #1190, and Department of                 
                 Administration #1981.                                         
                                                                               
  CSHB 4(JUD):   An Act relating to failure  to report harm or                 
                 assaults of the elderly or disabled.                          
                                                                               
                 David  Gray,  aide  to  Representative  Jerry                 
                 Mackie, sponsor of HB 4, testified in support                 
                 of the  bill.  Pat  O'Brien, Social  Services                 
                 Program Director, Division  of Family & Youth                 
                 Services,  Department  of  Health   &  Social                 
                 Services, spoke to the Department's concerns.                 
                 Discussion was had between  Senators Kerttula                 
                 and  Rieger  regarding  home care  providers,                 
                 their   ethical   responsibility    and   the                 
                 vulnerability of  some elderly people.   HB 4                 
                 was  REPORTED OUT  of  committee  with a  "do                 
                 pass,"  and   zero  fiscal   notes  for   the                 
                 Departments  of   Administration,  Health   &                 
                 Social  Services,  and  Community &  Regional                 
                 Affairs.                                                      
                                                                               
  CSSB 190(JUD): An  Act relating  to  income withholding  and                 
                 other  methods of  enforcement for  orders of                 
                 support; and providing for an effective date.                 
                                                                               
                 Scheduled but not heard.                                      
                                                                               
  SENATE CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 3(JUD):                                         
                                                                               
       An  Act  relating to  public  home care  providers; and                 
       providing for an effective date.                                        
                                                                               
  Co-chair Pearce  invited David Gray, aide  to Representative                 
  Mackie, sponsor of HB 3 and HB 4, to join the members at the                 
  table and speak to the bill.                                                 
                                                                               
  DAVID GRAY said HB 3 had been around for awhile and  had not                 
  changed too much.  The bill originated after a senior passed                 
  away  who  had  a  health  care  provider and  there  was  a                 
  complaint  from the family that the estate had been misused.                 
  In response, Representative Mackie looked at the home health                 
  care provider situation  and how dependent the  senior could                 
  become on this person.  It could involve handling a senior's                 
  money  and  other matters.    The bill's  main  effect would                 
  prohibit  home care  providers  to  be  the  sole  power  of                 
  attorney,  and  anyone  who  was  using  public  moneys  was                 
  required   to    have   a    criminal   background    check.                 
  Representative  Mackie also felt this bill  was in tune with                 
  the administration's  efforts to  turn to  more home  health                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  care service for seniors.                                                    
                                                                               
  Senator  Kerttula stated this  bill was  related to  his own                 
  personal concerns.   He supported a  system where more  than                 
  one  person  would   be  involved,  and  also   supported  a                 
  background check.                                                            
                                                                               
  In  answer to  Senator  Rieger, Mr.  Gray said  the statutes                 
  defined when the state  would pay for a home  care provider.                 
  Mr. Gray said  definitions of different  kinds of care  were                 
  scattered throughout the  statutes.  He said  the effort was                 
  to have a broader and  more consistent definition throughout                 
  all parts of the  statutes that dealt with the  programs and                 
  protection of the elderly.                                                   
                                                                               
  PAT  O'BRIEN, Social Services  Program Director, Division of                 
  Family  &  Youth  Services, Department  of  Health  & Social                 
  Services, said she had been following HB 3 and HB 4 for four                 
  years.    She  said  in  order   for  the  division  to  put                 
  regulations in place  by March 15,  1995, a fiscal note  was                 
  needed.  She  went on to say  that if the  vulnerable adults                 
  bill  passed,  there  would  be  a  collaboration  with  the                 
  Division  of Senior Services  to develop  those regulations.                 
  In response to Mr. Gray's prior statement, she said a public                 
  home care provider was not currently defined in statute.                     
                                                                               
  In answer to  Senator Kerttula, Ms. O'Brien said  that there                 
  was more detail than listed on the fiscal note.  In order to                 
  implement this bill,  regulations must be implemented.   She                 
  said regulations would  address due  process.  In  addition,                 
  procedures must be revised in the workers' manuals and  some                 
  changes in reporting must be made.  She said the residential                 
  child care regulations were more than  ten years old.  There                 
  was  a  backlog of  very important  sets of  regulations and                 
  prioritizing this bill in front of other regulations was not                 
  something the  department  wanted  to  do.    She  said  the                 
  department  would   contract   out  the   writing   of   the                 
  regulations.    In  her  experience,   she  had  found  that                 
  regulations often take a year, and sometimes longer.                         
                                                                               
  Senator Kerttula understood that there  was not enough money                 
  to  handle the  many  problems the  Department  of Health  &                 
  Social Services faced, but  it was discouraging to  him that                 
  it would take a year to implement regulations.                               
                                                                               
  Senator Rieger asked if the person  who was the recipient of                 
  home care services under the circumstances of HB 3, ever was                 
  a ward of the state.   Ms. O'Brien said that  children would                 
  be the only case, or children  in foster homes where respite                 
  care would  be provided.   Adults  were never  wards of  the                 
  state.                                                                       
                                                                               
  Again, in  answer to Senator  Rieger, Ms. O'Brien  said this                 
  was  easiest  to talk  about  in  regard to  a  very elderly                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  person.  The  home care provider  who went into the  elderly                 
  person's home might  be the only individual  that the person                 
  sees and the two might develop a close bond.  There had been                 
  cases of abuse  where the elderly  person felt dependent  on                 
  the  individual for  emotional support.   In that  case, the                 
  elderly person would not  be strong enough to take  steps to                 
  protect him/herself.   She  said someone  could report  this                 
  matter to  the department  and in  some cases,  it would  be                 
  necessary for  the department  to ask the  individual to  be                 
  removed.                                                                     
                                                                               
  In answer to another question by Senator Rieger, Ms. O'Brien                 
  said in licensing outside contractors, the Department of Law                 
  had  advised  the statement  regarding  removal in  order to                 
  provide for due process.   Senator Rieger voiced his concern                 
  that the state was creating another way to leave itself open                 
  to lawsuits where none existed before.                                       
                                                                               
  FRANK JAMISON, Older Alaskans Commission, Division of Senior                 
  Services, Department of  Health & Social Services,  said the                 
  Commission was in  support of HB 3.   She added  that people                 
  hired  to become  home care providers  would be  required to                 
  have a  criminal record check.  The incident that instigated                 
  this bill was a person that had a record  in California, and                 
  because  no record check  was done here,  no one knew.   She                 
  stated it was an important bill for vulnerable adults.                       
                                                                               
  In answer to Co-chair Pearce, Mr.  Gray said that he did not                 
  know how the testimony had gone in Senate Judiciary.  He did                 
  know that due process was key to this situation.                             
                                                                               
  Senator Kerttula made a statement  that elderly adults could                 
  be very vulnerable and family may not be close by.  He cited                 
  another situation  where a  parent had  Alzheimer's and  its                 
  problems.                                                                    
                                                                               
  Senator Kerttula MOVED  for passage of  HB 3 from  committee                 
  with individual recommendations.   No objection being heard,                 
  it was  REPORTED OUT  of committee  with a  "do pass,"  zero                 
  fiscal notes for the Department of Health & Social Services-                 
  Administration,  and  a fiscal  note  for the  Department of                 
  Health & Social Services-#2059 for  $15.0.  Co-chairs Pearce                 
  and Frank, Senators  Rieger, Kerttula, and Jacko  signed "do                 
  pass."                                                                       
                                                                               
  CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 4(JUD):                                                
                                                                               
       An Act relating to  failure to report harm or  assaults                 
       of the elderly or disabled.                                             
                                                                               
  Co-chair  Pearce asked  David  Gray, aide  to Representative                 
  Mackie, prime  sponsor of  HB 4, to  return to the  table to                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  speak to the bill.                                                           
                                                                               
  David Gray said that HB 4 was  a companion bill to HB 3.  It                 
  would  increase  the  penalties that  exist  for  people who                 
  provided  home  care  services  to  elderly adults  and  the                 
  disabled,  and  make  it  consistent with  other  law.    It                 
  increased  the  penalty  from a  violation  to  a class  "B"                 
  misdemeanor.    An  earlier  version  added harm  to  senior                 
  citizens  as an aggravating factor.  This was taken out.  It                 
  had another provision  that said if a provider was convicted                 
  of  doing  harm,  the court  should  notify  the appropriate                 
  licensing agency.                                                            
                                                                               
  Senator  Kerttula  said  that  a  piece of  legislation  had                 
  already passed regarding this issue.   He thought the social                 
  services people were  required to investigate reports.   Mr.                 
  Gray said he did not know about reporting requirements.                      
                                                                               
  Senator Rieger asked  how this  would tie in  with a  mental                 
  health  professional  or  a family  therapist  in  regard to                 
  professional and ethical confidentiality towards the family.                 
                                                                               
  Co-chair Frank asked Senator Rieger if he meant a case where                 
  a  family  member may  confess to  some  abuse to  a parent.                 
  Senator  Rieger  agreed  and  said  the person  that  needed                 
  counseling would not receive the therapy he/she needed.                      
                                                                               
  Mr.  Gray  pointed out  that presently  it  was a  class "B"                 
  penalty to harm  a disabled  person where harm  to a  senior                 
  citizen was only  a violation.   Senator Rieger did not  see                 
  what that had to do with it.                                                 
                                                                               
  Senator Kerttula suggested that health care professionals be                 
  excluded from this bill.                                                     
                                                                               
  Discussion  continued between  Co-chair Frank  and  Mr. Gray                 
  regarding health care providers and reporting of abuse.                      
                                                                               
  Ms.  O'Brien said the  department had wrestled  with many of                 
  these  same  questions.   In  fact, she  heard  testimony by                 
  mental health care providers on these issues.  She said they                 
  support  being  included in  the  mandatory  reporting laws.                 
  Health  care  providers warn  their  clients that  they must                 
  report  violations  if  it  would   come  up  in  counseling                 
  sessions, and it may keep the client from speaking freely.                   
                                                                               
  Senator Rieger again  said that people that  needed the help                 
  may not go for help.  He was not comfortable with  this part                 
  of the bill.                                                                 
                                                                               
  End SFC-94 #43, Side 2                                                       
  Begin SFC-94 #45, Side 1                                                     
                                                                               
  Ms. O'Brien said there was the understanding with reports to                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  law  enforcement  officers,  that when  it  was  reported to                 
  social  services,  unless the  law  had been  broken, social                 
  services  could  then  go  into  the  home   and  talk  with                 
  individuals to stop the behavior.  She said when it got to a                 
  criminal level, that was another area.                                       
                                                                               
  Senator  Kerttula  said  this  was  a  problem  with  social                 
  services.  Sometimes it would have to reach a criminal stage                 
  before someone was helped.                                                   
                                                                               
  In  answer to  Senator  Rieger, Mr.  O'Brien  said that  the                 
  definition of  harm would  be revised  under the  vulnerable                 
  adults law if that law passed.                                               
                                                                               
  Senator Kerttula  MOVED for passage  of HB 4  from committee                 
  with individual recommendations.  No objection  being heard,                 
  it was REPORTED OUT of committee  with a "do pass," and zero                 
  fiscal notes for the Department of Administration-#1631  and                 
  Kerttula  signed  "do  pass."    Senator Rieger  signed  "no                 
  recommendation."                                                             
                                                                               
  SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD:                                                     
                                                                               
  CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 190(JUD):                                             
                                                                               
       An Act relating to income withholding and other methods                 
       of enforcement for orders of support; and providing for                 
       an effective date.                                                      
                                                                               
  ADJOURNMENT                                                                  
                                                                               
  The meeting was adjourned at approximately 10:15 a.m.                        

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