Representative Haggerty applauds passage of Legislation to Improve Quality and Oversight of Long-term Care Sector

BOSTON – State Representative Richard M. Haggerty (D-Woburn) was pleased to join his colleagues in the House of Representatives to unanimously pass House Bill 4178, ‘An Act to improve quality and oversight of long-term care,’ an important piece of legislation that aims to take a comprehensive approach towards reforming the long-term care industry by supporting and expanding the workforce, enhancing oversight of facilities, and ensuring greater access, all while prioritizing quality of care.

“I’m proud to support this legislation that takes meaningful steps to improve oversight, expand the caregiver workforce, and enhance the quality of care provided in long-term care facilities across our communities,” said Representative Haggerty. “Our most vulnerable residents deserve access to high-quality long-term care. This bill provides additional training for workers and empowers facilities to better meet the needs of the individuals they serve. It’s a comprehensive approach that will have a real impact on residents, families, and caregivers.”

This legislation incorporates several of the recommendations made by the 2020 Nursing Facility Task Force report by:

•  Providing  the Department of Public Health (DPH) with additional tools to monitor and take punitive action against facilities including new abilities to limit, restrict, suspend, or revoke a license for cause and appoint temporary managers;
•  Strengthening DPH’s licensure suitability standards to include a more comprehensive review of the background and legal record of applicants and expanding the scope of review to include any entity with at least 5 percent ownership interest in a nursing facility; and
•  Creating new initiatives to support and grow the workforce such as workforce training grants to develop new Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), career ladder program grants, and leadership and supervisory training.

The bill also addresses workforce challenges facing long-term care facilities by authorizing direct care workers, including CNAs, to obtain a certification to administer non-narcotic medications to long-term care facility residents under the supervision of a licensed nurse or physician. The training curriculum and standards for certified medication aides will be established by the Department of Public Health, in consultation with the Board of Registration in Nursing, and will require at least 60 hours of training, and will help long-term care facilities to satisfy proposed new federal staffing requirements.

“I want to extend my gratitude to Speaker Mariano for his leadership and my colleagues who worked hard to make this legislation a reality,” said Representative Haggerty.

Some of the major provisions of the bill include:

•  establishing the long-term care workforce and capital fund to enhance workforce opportunities;
•  increasing oversight, enforcement, and penalties for nursing home violations and noncompliance to improve quality of care and resident safety; and
•  requiring nursing homes to develop outbreak response plans, implement staff training programs, enable in-person resident activities, and examine financial trends across the industry to improve the quality of care.

The bill passed today builds on successes achieved through the state budget and American Rescue Plan Act allocation processes including $165 million to help address frontline caregiver shortages in last session’s economic development bill, $115 million in increases to the MassHealth Nursing Home Supplement Rates Line Item in the Fiscal Year 2023 Budget, and $25 million as a no-interest, forgivable loan program for capital improvements in the COVID-19 Recovery bill.

Having passed the House of Representatives 158-0, “An Act to improve quality and oversight of long-term care” now goes to the Senate for their consideration.

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