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Elder abuse legislation would benefit Napa residents

Elder abuse legislation would benefit Napa residents

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On Friday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed 59 new bills into law, yet hundreds more await his signature or veto before the Sept. 30 deadline.

At least three of those pieces of legislation still sitting on Brown’s desk would greatly protect the well-being of Napa County’s elderly population.

Assembly bills 40, 999 and 1710 aim to protect the health and rights of California’s seniors and dependent adults. All three pieces of legislation were written by state Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, who is running for Napa’s new Assembly District 4 in November.

Yamada chairs the Assembly Committee on Aging and Long-Term Care.

AB 40, which was more than two years in the making, would:

• conform state elder abuse law with the federal Elder Justice Act;

• allow local senior long-term care ombudsmen to share information with law enforcement during investigations of abuse at nursing homes and long-term care facilities;

• require mandated reporters to file a report with local law enforcement within two hours of witnessing or discovering an incident of abuse that resulted in serious injury. A report to the ombudsman would be required within 24 hours.

“It was a very long two-year fight with, frankly, the nursing home industry, which is very powerful,” Yamada said of the legislation. “It’s a $9 billion industry in California.”

Yamada also wrote AB 999, which would set stricter consumer protection standards for long-term care insurance to better protect policyholders from excessive rate increases.

AB 1710 would update the Nursing Home Administrator Program fee and licensing structure. It would better protect the nursing home residents by providing more oversight and training for administrators.

Yamada said public policy on elder abuse is about

30 years behind legislation on child abuse, noting the introduction of child abuse law came in 1969 in comparison to adult abuse legislation, which was first adopted in 1999.

More than 15 percent of Napa County’s population is over the age of 65, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and that percentage is expected to grow. As such, local government has been at the forefront of new initiatives that affect seniors.

Last year, responding to a sharp increase in elder abuse cases locally, Napa became the first county in the state to require independent senior and dependent adult caregivers to apply for a permit. The process requires an initial fee in excess of $100 and a background check as well as annual renewals. It is even required for some family members acting as caregivers.

The three bills awaiting Brown’s approval this month all represent positive steps in that same necessary direction. They deserve Brown’s signature.

This story has been modified since its original posting to correct the district in which Mariko Yamada is campaigning.

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