Understanding California’s 2020 Aging-Related Bills

According to the State of Reform website, senior Americans in California are rapidly increasing in number. So much so that California legislators in 2019 lobbied for and Governor Newsom signed into effect an Executive Order. This order directs the Secretary of State for California Health and Human Services Agency (CCHS) to develop a “Master Plan for Aging.” Population estimates project the state’s population over the age of 65 will balloon to 8.6 million by the year 2030. This number is an increase of 4 million, nearly double that of the current 65 and older population.

The group State of Reform, which seeks to bridge the gap between health care and health policy by following issues related to California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii, and the federal government, posted these relevant aging bills that are taking effect in 2020. This Executive Order reads in part, “Shifts in California’s population over the next decade will present new and different demands on state and local services across all functions of government, as well as families and older Californians.” Below are some of the more significant bills, which took effect on January 1, 2020.

SB 280 –  Focuses on building code standards and fall prevention. The Department of Housing and Community Development will investigate possible changes to the California Residential Code’s building standards. The code’s charter promotes aging in place design, taking into account elements like grab bar installations in bathrooms, doorbell locations, heating, and cooling thermostat locations, light switches, water heaters, and more.

AB 477 – No one could have foreseen the catastrophic 2020 wildfire situations that still plague California and its residents. Many lives have been lost, homes destroyed, highways closed, forests and their associated ecological systems destroyed, even power outages in efforts to contain fires have left Californians elderly facing dire consequences. Whether it be mudslides, wildfires, earthquakes, or other disasters, AB 477’s existing California law authorizes “cities, cities and counties, and counties to create disaster councils to develop plans for addressing local or state emergencies.” These population center authorities must integrate the “needs of the access and functional needs population into its emergency plan.” The needs-based population includes senior citizens and people with chronic conditions, injuries, and more.

AB 567 – This bill establishes a group known as the “Long Term Care Insurance Task Force” within the Department of Insurance (CDOI). The CDOI comprises specific stakeholders and government agencies’ representatives, creating a statewide, long-term care insurance program. California legislators cite public opinion research over the growing concerns of long-term care insurance costs that transcends political party lines and all income levels. The legislature’s research shows most respondents could not afford more than three months (average price of $10,000 per month in CA) of nursing home care. About 40 percent say they are unable to afford a single month of care at the average cost.

AB 737 – Entitled the California Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly Act. The bill requires an application filing with the Department of Social Services for any person seeking licensure for a residential senior care facility. One of the more important application requirements is a disclosure of any individual holding a beneficial ownership interest of 10 percent or more in a facility. This bill addresses shoddy consumer protections for the elderly seeking residential care and protects against the shadow market of unlicensed care facilities.

AB 1287 – This bill requires the California Health and Human Services (CHHS) Master Plan for Aging to consider the efficacy of implementing a “No Wrong Door System.” The bill seeks coordination between multiple state and community agencies to ensure that regardless of what agency a person contacts for help initially, they will receive direction to the appropriate agency. The No Wrong Door System provides access information and one-on-one counseling regarding all available options across all agencies and their communities.

SB 314 – Known as The Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act will provide for the award of legal fees and plaintiff costs, as well as damages, where legal proof exists that the defendant is liable for physical neglect or abuse. The bill also extends these provisions in cases where the defendant is liable for abandonment.

These legislative acts and bills seek to protect California’s senior population’s rights and create protections. If you are an elderly resident of California or have a loved one who is, become familiar with these aging-related bills to provide the best quality of senior life possible. To fully understand all of these legislative implications, schedule an appointment with us. Contact us today at 877-585-1885 or schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal matters.

Thanks for reading.

Christopher E. Botti, Esq., Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law