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The bill would amend the Human Resources Code, Family Code, and Health and Safety Code by removing the exemption for investigations in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and similar facilities by the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), if a provider is alleged to have committed abuse, neglect, or exploitation (ANE). DFPS would be required to investigate allegations of ANE of an individual receiving services from a provider who provides home and community-based services under a home and community-based services waiver program, if the person alleged or suspected to have committed the abuse, neglect, or exploitation is a provider, even if the individual does not receive services under the waiver. These investigations would be exempted from the requirements of investigations of home and community support service agencies.
If another state agency has authority to license a provider and investigate reports of ANE of an individual by that provider, DFPS would be prohibited from investigating the report. The bill includes certain requirements for the provider investigations. The bill would also require DFPS to investigate reports of ANE of a child receiving services from an officer, employee, agent, contractor, or subcontractor of a home and community support services agency, if the party is or may be the person alleged to have committed the ANE. If the child is living in a residence owned, operated, or controlled by the provider who provides home and community-based services under a home and community-based services waiver program, DFPS would be required to provide protective services to the child, including emergency protective services, if necessary.
The purpose of the legislation is to authorize Adult Protective Services (APS) within DFPS to investigate abuse, neglect, and exploitation allegations against managed care organizations and their providers. Current law authorizes APS to investigate ANE of elderly persons and persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities in certain settings. However, as more services for the elderly and mentally disabled move into managed care, there is a need to clarify that APS can investigate ANE allegations against managed care providers.
The bill would not expand government regulation; rather it ensures regulation is consistent across government providers. The bill would also ensure the state is compliant with federal requirements from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services.
In this case, the expanded investigatory authority would apply to investigating complaints of abuse, neglect, and exploitation by businesses contracting with the state to provide taxpayer-funded services to the elderly and disabled. The state clearly has a responsibility to ensure that businesses it contracts with are not abusing the people in their care.
Still, implementing the provisions of this legislation would be costly according to the fiscal note and it is unclear whether the new authority proposed under this legislation is necessary given that law enforcement agencies can already investigate claims of abuse, neglect, and exploitation. For these reasons we are neutral on HB 2656.