Legislature(1993 - 1994)
04/05/1993 08:35 AM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE BILL NO. 3 "An Act relating to public home care providers; and providing for an effective date." REPRESENTATIVE MACKIE noted that HB 3, An Act relating to public home care providers, restricts the ability of a home care provider to assume power of attorney and requires criminal background checks on any individual providing home care services paid for by public funds for an elderly or disabled person. Representative Mackie stressed that HB 3 will provide some protection to elderly and disabled persons from those responsible for their care. He asserted that these groups are particularly vulnerable to abuse because of age, illness, disability and the isolation of being alone in their home with a care giver. Representative Mackie emphasized that it is important to take these steps now, while Alaska is on the brink of an explosion in home care services. He stressed that the state's senior citizen population is rapidly expanding and the state has just received approval for a Medicaid Waiver to provide home and community based services as an alternative to institutionalization. He maintained that once the Medicaid Waiver is effective, and there is a payment system available for expanded home based services, the home care services industry will see rapid growth. The bill also requires background checks on home care providers paid through Older Alaskans Commission grants, and respite care providers paid through the Division of Family and Youth Services. Representative Mackie noted that the Department of Health and Social Services is required to implement regulations identifying actions to be taken upon reports of harm by a home care provider; it also protects the due process rights of the provider. The companion bill, HB 4, provides that conviction of a person licensed, certified or regulated by a board or the Department of Commerce, for abuse of an elderly or disabled person may be considered ground for disciplinary proceedings or sanctions. Representative Mackie pointed out that 30 percent of back ground checks made by the Department of Public Safety have a criminal history. He provided members with a letter citing abuses of elderly nursing patients (Attachment 1). Representative Parnell asked if a family member can be a home care provider under state contract. PAT O'BRIEN, FAMILY AND YOUTH SERVICES, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES clarified that it would be unusual for a family member to be a contract care provider. Representative Hanley asked if "held jointly" means that both powers of attorney would have to execute. Representative Mackie replied that they would. Representative Hanley noted that the spouse of the primary power of attorney could be the second power of attorney. He asserted that it would be easy for couples to abuse their charge. He suggested that the second power of attorney not be the spouse. Representative Martin expressed concern with the fiscal cost. Representative Mackie clarified that no new programs would be created. He pointed out that the current program is funded through federal Medicaid funds. He noted that the legislation only changes employment requirements. Representative Martin stresssed that background checks would be mandated. The funding source of background checks was not specified. Representative Parnell MOVED to report HB 3 out of Committee with individual recommendations and with the accompanying fiscal notes. There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered. HB 3 was reported out of Committee with a "do pass" recommendation and with a zero fiscal note by the Department of Administration, dated 3/10/93 and with a fiscal impact note by the Department of Health and Social Services and with a zero fiscal note by the Department of Health and Social Services.