Legislature(2005 - 2006)

2005-03-02 Senate Journal

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2005-03-02                     Senate Journal                      Page 0442
SB 125                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 125 BY THE SENATE RULES COMMITTEE                                                   
BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR, entitled:                                                               
     "An Act relating to the licensing, regulation, enforcement,                                    
     and appeal rights of ambulatory surgical centers, assisted                                     
     living homes, child care facilities, child placement                                           
     agencies, foster homes, free-standing birth centers, home                                      
     health agencies, hospices or agencies providing hospice                                        
     services, hospitals, intermediate care facilities for the                                      
     mentally retarded, maternity homes, nursing facilities,                                        
     residential child care facilities, residential psychiatric                                     
     treatment centers, and rural health clinics; relating to                                       
     criminal history requirements, and a registry, regarding                                       
     certain licenses, certifications, approvals, and                                               
     authorizations by the Department of Health and Social                                          
     Services; making conforming amendments; and providing                                          
     for an effective date."                                                                        

2005-03-02                     Senate Journal                      Page 0443
was read the first time and referred to the Health, Education and Social                            
Services, Judiciary and Finance Committees.                                                         
The following fiscal information was published today:                                               
 Fiscal Note No. 1, Department of Law                                                               
 Fiscal Note No. 2, zero, Department of Health and Social Services                                  
Governor's transmittal letter dated March 1:                                                        
Dear President Stevens:                                                                             
Under the authority of art. III, sec. 18, of the Alaska Constitution, I am                          
transmitting a bill relating to consolidating the licensing functions of                            
the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS).                                                
Executive Order No. 108, which took effect in 2003, reorganized the                                 
DHSS in an effort to streamline functions and make services more                                    
efficient and cost effective.  As part of that reorganization, DHSS is                              
consolidating all of its licensing functions.                                                       
Currently, there are at least 12 different statutory schemes for the                                
licensure of different entities by the DHSS.  The complexity of the                                 
existing statutes and regulations and the absence of any clear rationale                            
for the wide variation in standards for licensing, enforcement, and                                 
appeals has resulted in a very burdensome and bureaucratic system.                                  
The proposed bill will streamline the licensing process so that the                                 
functions are administered in a much more efficient and cost-effective                              
manner by consolidating virtually all of the licensing functions related                            
to standards, enforcement, and appeal rights into a single chapter of                               
the Alaska Statutes.                                                                                
In addition, the bill requires the DHSS to implement a single,                                      
consolidated background check process across all of its programs with                               
the goal of reducing the risk of abuse and neglect of vulnerable clients.                           
In December 2004, the DHSS was awarded a $4.9 million federal                                       
grant to conduct background checks for any new worker with direct                                   
patient care duties in nursing homes and other long-term care                                       
facilities, and to establish a comprehensive training program that will                             
meet the unique needs of workers in Alaska's long-term care system.                                 
This grant, in conjunction with the provisions of the legislation I am                              
proposing today will:                                                                               

2005-03-02                     Senate Journal                      Page 0444
     · Improve monitoring and enforcement of life, health, and                                      
          safety regulations for all DHSS long term-care programs.                                  
     · Extend background checks and fitness determinations to all                                   
          staff serving vulnerable populations.                                                     
     · Improve the overall safety and security of vulnerable                                        
          individuals in state licensed and certified long-term care                                
Finally, this bill contemplates that at the same time that the statutory                            
changes would take effect, DHSS would have adopted regulations to                                   
implement these statutory changes.  It is anticipated that the resulting                            
regulations would further achieve the goal of efficiency and cost                                   
I urge your prompt and favorable action on this measure.                                            
Sincerely yours,                                                                                    
Frank H. Murkowski