BOSTON — Massachusetts is among 20 states that do not allow home care services that clean, cook and provide companionship to the elderly and homebound.
But a state commission is calling for these companies to be brought into the regulatory system by creating a process for licensing and overseeing their operations.
In a report, the panel called for a new licensing and oversight system similar to those in place in California and 30 other states that regulate the industry.
The report noted that while some home care businesses are subject to state oversight through contractual agreements with regional aged care boards, there are “gaps” in oversight. The panel concluded that a licensing system is necessary to “protect consumers, home care agencies and professionals”.
The report also calls on the state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services to create new regulations for the industry that will set standards for license approvals and revocations, require regular state inspections, as well as as criminal background checks on workers.
The 13-member commission, which includes state officials, seniors’ affairs representatives and consumers, has met several times over the past year and heard testimony from experts, home care and consumer agencies. The recommendations will now go to the state legislature.
The panel was unable to reach consensus on other regulatory issues, such as the number of homecare licenses that will be available, amid objections from some members.
“These members also expressed concern that attempts to limit or control the number of licenses could have a negative impact on the current shortage of home care workers and the growing number of elderly people. who are currently waiting to receive approved home care services,” the report’s authors noted.
The commissioners also didn’t make recommendations on how much the state should charge home care agencies for licensing, but the report notes that other states charge annual fees ranging from $100 to $2,800. $ per year.
Another issue the panel did not address was a recommendation that home care agencies should spend at least 75% of their revenue on providing services.
“Several members questioned whether the 75% threshold would be the appropriate standard for home care agencies,” the report notes. “Furthermore, such a proposed requirement would be administratively and resource-intensive for the state regulatory agency to implement and manage.”
Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group newspapers and websites. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.