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Bill to Strengthen State Licensing Oversight Over Nursing Home Ownership and Management Signed Into Law

For immediate release:

AB 1502 will strengthen state oversight over nursing home quality of care

Torrance, CA – Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill 1502, the Skilled Nursing Facility Ownership and Management Reform Act of 2022, authored by Assemblymembers Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) and Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg). This bill grants the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) greater authority to prohibit unqualified and unethical owners and operators from owning and operating skilled nursing facilities, or nursing homes, in the State of California.

Specifically, AB 1502 prohibits any person, corporation, or corporate chain from acquiring or operating a skilled nursing facility (SNF) without first obtaining a license from the Department of Public Health. The bill also requires CDPH to determine whether a license applicant is reputable and responsible, by examining the compliance histories of facilities owned or operated by the applicant, or any nursing home chain associated with the applicant, up to five years before the date of application. The CDPH will also be required to review and consider whether a license applicant has any criminal history prior to approval of a license. Finally, the bill authorizes CDPH to issue civil penalties for operating a facility prior to receiving a license approval.

"We need to protect seniors living in nursing homes and other residential care facilities. The COVID pandemic tragically magnified the dangers of living in nursing homes operated by unlicensed and unfit owners and operators," said Assemblymember Muratsuchi. "For far too long under existing law, nursing home owners and operators have been allowed to operate nursing homes without a license. Some nursing home operators have been allowed to acquire and operate nursing homes even with a well-documented and lengthy history of health and safety violations. We cannot allow this to continue."

"Many thanks to Assemblymember Muratsuchi for his persistence and dedication to improving the licensing process and protecting our most vulnerable residents in skilled nursing facilities," said Wood, joint author of AB 1502. "Taking the time to refine the legislation and work with the Department of Public Health resulted in progress and meaningful changes to the licensing process and will allow the Department to protect residents from unscrupulous and irresponsible owners."

For example, California's largest nursing home chain, Brius Healthcare, is operating at least 24 nursing homes where regulators have cited more than 30 state and federal health and safety violations from 2013 to 2016 without being licensed by CDPH. Six of the chain's license applications were denied years ago due to horrific conditions cited in its facilities.

In a 2017 report, the State Auditor described the inadequate State licensing oversight over SNFs operating with inadequate quality of care that caused or were likely to cause serious injury, harm, or death to residents. The 2017 audit criticized CDPH for not fulfilling its oversight responsibilities and the need to improve its process for approving or denying license applications. AB 1502 adopts many reforms recommended in the state audit to reform the state's licensing oversight over the ownership and management of skilled nursing facilities.

Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi represents California's 66th Assembly District, which includes El Camino Village, Gardena, Harbor City, Harbor Gateway, Hermosa Beach, Lomita, Los Angeles, Manhattan Beach, Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, Torrance, and West Carson. Muratsuchi is the Chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Climate Change Policies and the Assembly Select Committee on Aerospace, and is a member of the Assembly Committees on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials, Natural Resources, Utilities and Energy, Water, Parks and Wildlife, and Veterans Affairs.

CONTACT: Kerry Jacob, 310-806-0893