Proposed Legislation Aims to End Zombie Nursing Home Licenses in California

Newly proposed legislation in California is designed to end so-called “zombie” licenses for nursing homes in Orange County and throughout the state. What are zombie licenses when it comes to nursing homes? According to a recent article in the Times of San Diego, the California Department of Public Health has indicated that it does not have the authority to “disqualify owners and operators [of nursing homes] who are already in operation in the state,” which means that nursing home chains can acquired properties without obtaining a license first. As such, even nursing home chains or owners with histories of safety and health violations can operate nursing homes without being required to meet certain benchmarks first or to qualify for a license to operate a facility.

California Assembly Bill 1502 is designed to stop this practice from continuing and to ensure that owners of nursing homes obtain licenses before they are able to acquire or operate a nursing home in the state. Our Orange County nursing home abuse lawyers can tell you more about the pending bill.

Nursing Home Reform in California and Details of Assembly Bill 1502

The key aims of Assembly Bill 1502 are to give the California Department of Public Health “to disqualify unfit operators and owners, requiring them to meet certain qualifications and bar them from buying or operating a home without state approval.” Without this law in place, owners and operators of nursing homes who have histories of nursing home abuse and neglect violations can continue to acquire existing nursing homes and to operate facilities without proving that they have the necessary qualifications and that they should be licensed.

As the article explains, this bill is not the first of its kind to be put forward by California lawmakers. Indeed, in 2016 and 2019, legislators attempted to change state law in order to engage in nursing home reform, but the proposed legislation did not pass. With Assembly Bill 1502, however, the article intimates that “advocates appear to have momentum.” Given that about 80% of nursing homes in California are currently owned by corporate chains, it is particularly important to ensure that these owners and operators are properly licensed, and that the safety and health of seniors in these facilities is made a priority.

Language of Assembly Bill 1502

What does the language of the Assembly Bill say? Specific language included in the proposed legislation clarifies the central aims of the bill, such as:

  • “This bill would prohibit a person, firm, entity, partnership, trust, association, corporation, or political subdivision of the state, or other governmental agency within the state from acquiring, operating, establishing, managing, conducting, or maintaining a freestanding skilled nursing facility without first obtaining a license”
  • Requirements to apply for a license would include “affirmatively establishing suitability, as defined, providing the department with the applicant’s Medicare and Medicaid cost reports for all nursing facilities owned or managed . . . and, if the applicant is part of a chain, providing a diagram indicating the relationship between the applicant and the persons or entities, as defined, that are part of the chain”; 
  • “The bill would make all applications and other documents prepared in relation to these provisions, public records”; and
  • “The bill would authorize or require the department to deny an application for licensure, or to revoke a license, under certain circumstances.”

Californians will need to wait and see if Assembly Bill 1502 passes. 

Contact an Orange County Nursing Home Neglect Attorney

If you have questions about holding a facility accountable for harm, one of our Orange County nursing home negligence attorneys can assist you. Contact the Walton Law Firm to learn more.


See Related Blog Posts:

Why Nursing Home Offenses in Los Angeles County May Not be Reported to the Public

Nursing Homes and Private-Equity Firms: Dangers of Abuse

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