California’s aging-related bills taking effect in 2020

Preparing for California’s aging population appeared to be a priority for the Newsom Administration and California legislators in 2019. In June, Governor Newsom signed an Executive Order directing the Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHS) to develop a “Master Plan for Aging”. 

That California’s aging populace is an issue of central concern is no surprise given the state’s shifting demographics. According to Governor Newsom’s Executive Order, California’s over-65 population is projected to balloon to 8.6 million by 2030, an increase of four million people. 

To address the scale of the issue, California legislators drafted several bills in 2019 to address a range of issues. Below are a few aging-related bills that took effect on January 1st, 2020. 

 

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AB 477 – Existing California law authorizes cities, cities and counties, and counties to create disaster councils to develop plans for addressing local or state emergencies. This bill requires a county, or a city and county, to integrate the needs of the access and functional needs population into its emergency plan. The access and functional needs population includes senior citizens, people with chronic conditions or injuries, and more. 

AB 567 – This bill establishes a group called the “Long Term Care Insurance Task Force” in the Department of Insurance — composed of specified stakeholders and representatives of government agencies — to create a statewide long-term care insurance program. According to public opinion research cited by the legislature, concerns over the cost of long-term care exist at all income levels and across party lines. A majority of respondents in the legislature’s research could not afford more than three months of nursing home care at an average cost of six thousand dollars ($6,000) per month in California. Additionally, about four in 10 respondents could not afford a single month of care at that rate. 

SB 280 – Focusing on building standards and fall prevention, this bill orders the Department of Housing and Community Development to investigate possible changes to the building standards in the California Residential Code that promote aging-in-place design, such as the location of doorbells, light switches, heating etc, and the installation of grab bars in bathrooms.

AB 737 – Titled the California Residential Care Facilities for the Edlery Act, this bill requires any person seeking a license for a residential senior care facility to file an application with the Department of Social Services. Chief among the application’s required fields is the disclosure of any individual who holds a beneficial ownership interest of 10 percent or more in a facility. In other states, such as Hawaii, reports have arisen which detail shoddy consumer consumer protections for seniors seeking residential care and corruption fueling a shadow market of unlicensed care facilities.

AB 1287 – This bill requires the Master Plan for Aging developed by CHHS to consider the efficacy of utilizing a No Wrong Door System. In No Wrong Door Systems, according to the Administration for Community Living, multiple state and community agencies coordinate with each other to ensure that regardless of which agency people contact for help initially, they can access information and one-on-one counseling about the options available across all the agencies and in their communities. 

SB 314 – The Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act provides for the award of legal fees and costs to a plaintiff, as well as damages, when it is legally proven that the defendant is liable for physical abuse or neglect. This bill extends those provisions to cases in which the defendant is liable for abandonment.