On February 21, 2011, hundreds of employees and owners of home care agencies will gather in Sacramento to lobby against harmful home care legislation that threaten to drastically increase the costs seniors pay for in home care. One bill, SB411, co-sponsored by the SEIU, the Service Employees International Union, and Senator Cullen Price,(D- Los Angeles) calls for licensing home care in California and also certification of home care aides.

While reputable home care companies, who are members of the California Association for Health Services at Home, support licensing the growing home care industry, they oppose this bill unless two very harmful provisions are amended.

First, in thisHome Care act, SB 411 will require that employers pay for training for their employees, and then pay an annual fee of up to $180 per employee. This is an exorbitant fee and it’s higher than any other fee we can think of imposed on companies in California.    This added expense to have an “annual” certification will cost the average home care agency an estimated $20,000 to $50,000 per year, an expense that will have to be passed onto consumers who already struggle to be able to afford care to stay in their homes.

Secondly, the bill will require all home care aides to have their names and where they work posted publicly on a website, which invades their privacy and threatens their personal safety.  In addition, it provides a launching pad for identity thieves who will already be able to gather a great deal about the home care workers.

One employee, Georgetta, a former nurse, said “that’s not safe; I don’t want anyone who goes online to know where I am working.”

Home care agency owners and their employees instead want to support licensing, but to have home care workers names and employers not posted publicly.

Also, it’s a waste of time and money to force companies to renew the certification of their employees “annually”.  A much better plan would be to have the certification revocable if there was any crime, similar to what happens with Certified Nursing Assistants and nurses.

On top of those two harmful provisions, SB 411 would cost the state an estimated $25 million dollars, at a time when the state is cutting services and grappling with a massive budget deficit.

A much lower cost option is AB 899.   The California Association for Health Services
at Home is supporting AB 899 by Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada (D-Davis), chair
of the Assembly Committee on Aging and Long Term Care.  It would license home care agencies and would not post employees names and placed of work online.

As the elderly population is expected to double over the next 20 years, costs must be controlled or seniors will be forced to find care in the underground economy, or worse, they’ll end up in nursing homes paid for by Medicaid.  We urge those who are concerned about these issues to contact their State Senator or Assembly member and urge no on SB 411, unless amended until it makes common and economic sense.