Wednesday, January 24, 2018
According to reports from Hawaii media, the state has a growing number of unlicensed long-term care facilities for the elderly and disabled. One critic describes the problem as facilities that have "gone rogue." I strongly suspect that Hawaii isn't alone on the issue, where providers operate in the shadows of the law, seeking to avoid regulations setting minimum standards, authorizing inspections and implementing other state oversight. Operators push back on regulation, citing the costs of compliance. Certainly, I've seen issues in my own state of Pennsylvania, where some operators attempt to change their names or identities to avoid whatever is viewed as the latest or most demanding regulations. I remembering watching as an employee of one long-time, respected provider of "assisted living," chipped those words off the granite sign at the front of the property, part of his boss's effort to avoid Pennsylvania's then "new" regulation of assisted living operations.
Legislators in Hawaii have introduced new legislation in an attempt to plug the oversight holes, but operators are pushing back:
Care home operators, case managers, industry regulators and others filled a conference room Monday at the [Hawaii] Capitol for a tense briefing about the consumer protection, fairness and enforcement issues that these unregulated facilities present.
Rep. John Mizuno, chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, said he and health officials have crafted a bill that they hope cracks down on the problem. “We cannot lose any more kupuna,” he said. “No one else dies. That’s it.”
The situation has gotten to the point that some health officials are worried that Hawaii’s rapidly aging population may end up with unsafe options for their care. “If the Legislature is unable to stop this trend, more licensed facilities will drop out and this will place more seniors at risk,” said John McDermott, who has served as Hawaii’s long-term care ombudsman since 1998.
By the way, "kupuna" is a Hawaiian word for elders, grandparents or other older persons. For more information, read "Why Hawaii's Unlicensed Elder Care Industry Is Out of Control," by Nathan Eagle," and review HB 1911, which seeks to authorize Hawaii's Department of Health to investigate care facilities reporting to be operating without an appropriate certificate or license.