Legislature(1993 - 1994)

02/16/1994 01:32 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 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                 

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