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Hawaii State Ombudsman, John McDermott, Speaks to Health and Human Services Committee

February 05, 2018

Hawaii Civil Beat wrote an article entitled, Why Hawaii’s Unlicensed Elder Care Industry Is Out Of Control. The article stated that three hundred long-term facilities for elderly and disabled people have “closed” but reopened as “aging-in-place homes.” These homes/facilities operate without any licensing or state oversight; which means no background check, CPR certification, Tuberculosis clearance, fire code requirements or any other requirements that a licensed facility must have. As an increasing number of facilities choose to drop out of licensing, the remaining licensed facilities see little to no incentive for remaining certified.

Rep. John Mizuno, chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, said he and health officials have crafted a bill that they hope cracks down on the problem. “We cannot lose any more kupuna,” he said. “No one else dies. That’s it.” Mizuno introduced House Bill 1911 as a solution. The bill would give state health officials more authority to investigate unlicensed care facilities, establish fines for violations and make it illegal for health care providers to refer patients to unlicensed homes.

State Ombudsman John McDermott said, “If the Legislature is unable to stop this trend, more licensed facilities will drop out and this will place more seniors at risk.” McDermott also said, “Why would a caregiver subject herself and her family to annual inspections, the ombudsman dropping in unannounced, having to pay for all the requirements and costs of running a licensed business if they can drop out of the regulatory system and call herself or himself an aging-in-place home and get away with it? What message are we sending to all those caregivers following the rules?”

The bill is scheduled for a hearing on February 8th. The bill must go through three committees before a final vote by the full House, at which point it would cross over to the Senate if approved.