Legislature(1993 - 1994)
02/16/1994 01:32 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
REPRESENTATIVE JERRY MACKIE stated that HB 3 (REGULATION OF HOME CARE PROVIDERS) would add protections for the elderly and disabled of Alaska. HB 3 would restrict the ability of a home care provider in obtaining power of attorney of the client they serve. HB 3 would require criminal background checks of persons providing home care services that are paid by state funds. He noted that grantees who contract with state agencies to provide these services would be required to order criminal background checks on their employees. HB 3 requires that the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) implement regulations on actions due to reports of harm by a home care provider while protecting the due process rights of that provider. He stated support of HB 3 by the Division of Family and Youth Services and the Older Alaskans Commission. Representative Mackie urged the committee's positive consideration of HB 3 with a minor change. He suggested changing the dates on page 3, lines 26 and 27 from "1994" to "1995" which would be a technical change. He said that he had reintroduced this legislation due to circumstances in his district where a home care provider had assumed power of attorney over an elderly individual's bank accounts. The home care provider spent almost all of the elderly individual's life savings. He informed the committee that Pioneer Homes are full with increasingly longer waiting lists, while the senior population is rapidly growing. He expressed his personal belief that elderly individuals are more comfortable in their own homes. He also pointed out that HB 3 does not allow someone to have direct control of an elderly person's finances; there would have to be a third party involved. SENATOR JACKO asked if there would be a charge for the background check. REPRESENTATIVE MACKIE said that Public Safety would do those. He referred to the attached fiscal notes. NANCY WELLER, staff to Representative Mackie, stated that the person who requests the background check would be charged. She did note the new situation with Adult Protective Services being transferred to the Division of Senior Services from the Division of Family and Youth Services (DFYS). Before this shift the DFYS had agreed to pay some of the background check while providing slightly less services in order to protect this population of individuals. REPRESENTATIVE MACKIE said that perhaps DFYS felt that they could absorb that cost from within without requiring additional legislative appropriations. He stated that there had been strong administrative support of this legislation. He asked if there could be a user fee, the individual would pay, as a condition of employment since the division has the ability to regulate. Number 203 CHAIRMAN TAYLOR stated that HB 3 seems to provide a request for records. REPRESENTATIVE MACKIE said that would be the criminal background check. In response to Chairman Taylor, Representative Mackie pointed out that HB 4, a companion bill to HB 3, does tie in some of the provisions not in HB 3. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR expressed concern with setting up another bureaucracy to license people who take care of elder individuals. REPRESENTATIVE MACKIE said that HB 3 takes the basic essentials to do a better job from a public policy standpoint. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR moved to amend lines 26 and 27 on page 3; deleting "1994" and inserting "1995" for an effective date. Hearing no objection, HB 3 was amended. FRAN JAMESON, Associate Coordinator at the Older Alaskans Commission, noted their position paper and their support of HB 3. She said that criminal checks would protect the elderly and disabled from exploitation. The agency would require in the condition of grant award that community agencies do background checks. From the grant money the agency would pick up the cost, approxiamately $75, with a reduction in overall services, about three fewer hours of service for each client. She felt that the protection of the clients would be worth that reduction of service. Number 145 CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked why the applicant could not pay for the background check. FRAN JAMESON said that some individuals could not pay the fee. Ms. Jameson clarified for Senator Little that the background check would cost approxiamately $75. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR inquired about the wages of the employees. FRAN JAMESON informed the committee that Respite Care wages range from $7 to $9 per hour; however, there are others in home services that may be as expensive as $15 per hour. She reiterated that the general cost of a criminal background check would be around $75. REPRESENTATIVE MACKIE suggested that perhaps the applicant should pay for the background check, especially due to the limited funding and the reduction of services. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR discussed the various positions that require background checks. He expressed surprise that the cost was as high as $75. He said that question could be addressed in finance. FRAN JAMESON submitted a position paper to the committee. SENATOR DONLEY moved HB 3 as amended out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objections, it was so ordered.