H.B. 2607 creates two new statutes and amends 13 existing statutes that concern the Office of Long-term Care Ombudsman.
The two new statutes create the Office of Long-term Care Ombudsman as an independent state agency attached to the Department of Administration; provide that the Secretary of Administration, who is to provide technical assistance and advice to the State Long-term Care Ombudsman, is to include the budget for the Office prepared by the Long-term Care Ombudsman in the budget submitted for the Department of Administration; require the Long-term Care Ombudsman and the Secretary of Aging to enter into agreements for the provision of financial assistance to the Office of Long-term Care Ombudsman from available federal and state funds of the Department on Aging; require the Secretary of Aging, subject to appropriations, to continue to provide financial assistance at the level provided during fiscal year 1998 adjusted for inflation and other applicable factors; and require the Secretary of Aging to include an amount to be provided for the Office of Long-term Care Ombudsman, including amounts to be appropriated from Older American Act moneys or other federal funds, in the Department's annual budget.
Amendments to the statute that concerns the Advisory Council on Aging add consultation with the State Long-term Care Ombudsman regarding the needs of aged Kansas residents (of adult care homes) for ombudsman services to the duties of the Council. Other sections of the bill amend existing statutes that concern the Long-term Care Ombudsman. In Section 4, the amendments create a new definition of the term "volunteer ombudsman;" exempt nursing facilities for mental health and ICR-MR facilities from the definition of adult care home, thus removing such facilities from the purview of the Long-term Care Ombudsman; recognize in the definitions of State and Regional Long-term Care Ombudsman the removal from the Secretary of Aging of responsibility for long-term care ombudsmen; and expand the definition of "conflict of interest."
Section 5 of H.B. 2607 amends an existing statute to abolish the existing Office of State Long-term Care Ombudsman under the Secretary of Aging on the effective date of the bill and establish the Office of the State Long-term Care Ombudsman as an independent state agency. Pursuant to the amendments, the State Long-term Care Ombudsman is to be appointed by the Governor, subject to Senate confirmation, for a four-year term, except that the term of the first appointee is to expire on January 15, 2000. New qualifications for the position are set out in the amendments. The rest of the amendments are technical and relate to the transfer of powers, duties, and functions of the Office of State Long-term Care Ombudsman.
The other statutes amended in Sections 6 through 15 generally reflect changes necessary to carry out severing the Office of Long-term Care Ombudsman from the Secretary and Department on Aging. There are some substantive changes or additions to the statutes, including authorization for the Ombudsman to enter into contracts for certain services and providing that such contracts are not subject to competitive bidding requirements; authorization for the Ombudsman to request and accept grants and donations; requiring a report and recommendations to be made to specified committees of the Legislature annually; creation of specific directives relating to the use of volunteer ombudsmen; and authority for an ombudsman to have access to records and documents concerning residents of an adult care home, including in those cases in which a resident cannot give consent to such access; and restrictions on the access of volunteer ombudsmen to medical records.
The Senate Committee amendments are technical only.
When responsibility for the nursing facility component of the Medicaid program was transferred from the Secretary of Social and Rehabilitation Services to the Secretary of Aging, the issue of a possible conflict of interest if the Office of Long-term Care Ombudsman remained within the Department on Aging was raised. The Secretary of Aging sought authority to transfer the Office to another state agency or to contract to privatize the services. During the interim, the Legislative Coordinating Council asked the SRS Transition Oversight Committee to consider an appropriate location for the Office of Long-term Care Ombudsman and H.B. 2607 was introduced to carry out the recommendations arising from extensive study during the interim. For additional information on the interim study and the findings and recommendations of the SRS Transition Oversight Committee see pages 24-27 of the Final Report of the SRS Transition Oversight Committee to the 1998 Legislature.
1. *Supplemental notes are prepared by the Legislative Research Department and do not express legislative intent. The supplemental note and fiscal note for this bill may be accessed on the Internet at http://www.ink.org/public/legislative/fulltext-bill.html.