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BILL ENDING ‘ZOMBIE LICENSES’ FOR NURSING HOMES MOVES FORWARD IN CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE

Shot down before, this time advocates have momentum as bill heads to a vote

By J.W. August

Photo:  Isolation of patients in nursing homes during COVID era increases need for state oversight; image CC-by-NC via Bing

Update 5 p.m. --AB 1502  passed the Assembly tthis afternoon by a 47-12 vote and now heads to the State Senate.

January 31, 2022 (San Diego) -- If you want to drive a car in California you need a driver's license. In San Diego County all dogs must be licensed.  But if you own a nursing home, you can buy another home or chain of facilities, and no license is required. 

Unlike a driver who is in multiple accidents or an animal that's attacked someone, there are no rules when it comes to the takeover or sale of nursing homes, no matter how ugly the track record of the firm buying or selling a nursing home.

Even if a chain operator has a history of poorly managed homes, it can add to its portfolio and can do so without first obtaining a license, as long as it submits a license application. The trouble is, such applications can take years to process.

The California Department of Public Health, which is charged with providing oversight of the nursing home industry, says it has no authority to disqualify owners and operators who are already in operation in the state. The agency says this is allowed to happen under what they call a Management Operations Transfer Agreement.

This is what Tony Chicotel, attorney for California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), calls “zombie licenses.”. He explains it’s  “the essence of license-evasion.” 


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