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Assemblymember Mark Stone, Chair
Assembly Judiciary Committee
1020 N Street, Room 104
Sacramento, CA 95814
RE: AB 849 (Gómez Reyes) – Support
Dear Assemblymember Stone:
I urge you and the members of the Senate Health Committee to support AB 849, a bill that will restore a critical tool for protecting the rights and well-being of nursing home residents. Nursing home residents have been living a nightmare of isolation and death and they are in dire need of the private right of enforcement that was lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents whose rights are violated are now limited to $500 in damages, no matter how many or how egregious the violations. This creates an intolerable situation where harmful nursing home conduct becomes profitable.
Health and Safety Code Section 1430(b) was enacted to protect and ensure the rights of people living in nursing homes. Last year, 1430(b) was dealt a devastating blow when the State Supreme Court ruled that the maximum damages available to residents / victims whose rights have been violated was $500, regardless of the severity or number of violations.
As acknowledged by some of the Justices, the decision could not have come at a worse time for nursing home residents. Complaints against nursing homes are at an all-time high and the California Department of Public Health has never been less able to protect the rights and welfare of residents. Years of lax enforcement and the Supreme Court’s decision means there are virtually no repercussions for nursing homes that break the rules.
AB 849 will deter harmful conduct in nursing homes and restore residents’ ability to seek damages for each violation they have suffered. The bill is an essential piece of the legislature’s 2021 PROTECT Plan, a package of bills aimed at reforming nursing homes to improve state oversight, financial transparency, accountability, and ultimately enhance care for all residents.
Please vote yes on AB 849.