New standards for assisted living facilities and personal care homes were among the changes included in Georgia House Bill 987, the “Disabled Adults and Elder Persons Protection Act,” which Governor Kemp signed into law on June 30, 2020. The new law tasks the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) with the promulgation of revised rules to implement the new standards under the law. The changes included in HB 987 include additional staffing requirements, Memory Care Center Certification, increased fines, and a renaming of the State Board of Nursing Home Administrators as the State Board of Long-Term Care Facility Administrators, among other changes. On February 11, 2021, DCH published the first set of proposed revisions to the Rules and Regulations for General Licensing and Enforcement Requirements. The proposed rules include the following changes:
- The addition of the following defined terms:
- “Long-term care facility” means a licensed adult day center, assisted living community, home health agency, hospice, intermediate care home, nursing home, personal care home or private home care provider.
- “Memory Care Certificate” means a certificate issued by the department to a licensed assisted living community or personal care home to authorize the operation of a memory care center.
- The Licensure Activity Fee Schedule was updated as follows:
- Assisted Living Communities were added to the fee schedule (without a stated annual fee)
- Memory Care Certificate added, with a $200 Annual fee.
- Fee categories were consolidated and modified.
- Modified Sanctions:
- Requires that a facility with a website post a public reprimand “in a prominent location on the main page of the website that provides access to a copy of the public reprimand.”
- Increased Civil Penalty Fines up to $2,000 per day for each violation of law, rule, regulation, or formal order related to the initial or continued licensing of a facility, not to exceed $40,000 for violations found during the same inspection.
- Category I ($1,201-$2,000 per violation per day)
- Category II ($601-$1,200 per violation per day)
- Category III ($100-600 per violation per day)
- Mandates a fine “of no less than $5,000.00 for a violation of a law, rule, regulation, or formal order related to the initial or ongoing licensing of a long-term care facility which has caused the death of or serious physical harm to a resident in such facility.”
- Term ‘serious physical harm’ means “an injury which causes any significant impairment of the physical condition of the resident as determined by qualified medical personnel which may be proven by testimony or by submission of the medical record. Any mandatory fine imposed by the Department may not be reduced on the basis of financial hardship.”
- Federal Preemption. No fine, whether discretionary or mandatory, may be imposed against any nursing facility, nursing home, or intermediate care facility which is subject to intermediate sanctions under the provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 1396 r(h)(2)(A), as amended, whether or not those sanctions actually are imposed.
- Authorizes the department to deny an application when an applicant has surrendered a license within the prior year in order to “avert denial, revocation, or suspension of a license or payment of fines.”
Written comments on the proposed changes are due on or before March 5, 2021. DCH is expected to propose additional regulations to implement the remaining statutory changes made as a result of HB987.