States Creating New Regulations for Home Care Industry

States Creating New Regulations for Home Care Industry

An aging population will require a different level of health care for a longer period of time. Many families have opted for at-home health care assistance in the form of Home Health Care workers. At this time, there are minimal regulations –some of which is state dependent – and minimal training involved. There is reason for concern as these are highly responsible yet low-wage positions.

As with any position in which an aged, sick or vulnerable inspanidual relies on others for their care, there are concerns of possible neglect or abuse.  In order to protect these patients, many states are considering bills to enhance the requirements for home health care workers. These may include creating standards for licensing home health care agencies, establishing mandatory training requirements and background checks for all workers employed in these positions. 

Home Health Agencies employ health aides whose responsibilities include providing medical services to patients. These inspaniduals receive 75 hours of training and are regulated under Medicare.  Home care aides are not regulated by Medicare and their qualifications are monitored by the States. These inspaniduals aid patients by providing daily personal care including shopping, feeding, medicating and toileting.  

Some States are creating new regulations for the home care industry. These include the following: 

Iowa: A bill has been signed requiring a mandatory study led by the Department of Inspections and Appeals whose findings must be submitted to the Governor and general Assembly by December 15, 2013. The study which will look into background check improvements for home health workers, requirements for home health including agencies that are not licensed, regulated or state certified. 

California: Beginning in 2016, a new law entitled the “Home Care Services Consumer Protection Act” will require licensing and regulation of home care businesses and organizations. The requirements include registration of home care aide applicants, background checks and a minimum of five hours of training. Training is funded in Kentucky, California, Maine, Iowa , Michigan, Massachusetts and North Carolina under the Affordable Health Care Act. The Personal and Home Health Care Aide State Training Program (PHCAST) covers topics concerning safety and emergency training, personal care skills, nutritional and health care support for home care aides. 

The Kentucky Applicant Registry and Employment Screening Program (KARES) has a state and FBI background check program for long-term health care employers. It includes voluntary fingerprinting. Governor Steve Beshear currently supports legislation making this process mandatory. Regulations, proper background checks and training will enable a higher competency level for home health care workers and a higher comfort level for those who rely on their assistance and expertise. 

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