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News & Press: Legislative

Assembly OKs Dementia Care Specialist Bill

Friday, February 23, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Sarah Bass
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From Forbes McIntosh, Government Policy Solutions, WALA Lobbyist


Clarity Provided on Grandfathering & Nurse Aid Training

The original "dementia care specialist" bill, Assembly Bill 630, called for creating a dementia specialist certification for a person whom successfully completes an instructional program, as specified in the bill. Further, the bill prohibits any person from using the title "dementia specialist" or "certified dementia specialist" without the certification. The Wisconsin Assisted Living Association (WALA) along with other provider associations had opposed the bill due to what they believed to be an unfairness of not adequately recognizing experienced caregivers who already possess the training and experience to use the proposed protected title.

While the author of the bill proposed an amendment (Assembly Amendment 1) to try and address provider concerns - it fell short by providing an additional hurdle only for existing caregivers that would require a "competency evaluation" (test or exam). At issue was that new caregivers with little or no experience would obtain the protected title after receiving the prescribed training, while more experienced and knowledgeable caregivers could not. Thus, WALA continued to oppose and seek an amendment that would allow for a less restrictive path for experienced caregivers.

The Wisconsin Assembly was scheduled to vote on AB-630 on Tuesday of this week. Rep. Mike Rohrkaste (R-Neenah) and the bill author, Rep. Ken Skowronski (R-Franklin), contacted and worked with WALA to pass a new amendment to assist with grandfathering qualified experienced caregivers - which deleted the competency evaluation and instead provided that the direct caregiver or his or her employer can attest to the individual's competency in dementia care, as developed by the instructional program administrator (Assembly Amendment 2 to Assembly Amendment 1).

In addition, the two nursing home associations added another amendment (Assembly Amendment 2) to AB-630 that conforms state law for instructional programs for nurse aides to the federal law requirements for Medicare and Medicaid. Specifically, the amendment prohibits the Department of Health Services from requiring an instructional program to exceed the federal required minimum total training hours or minimum hours of supervised practical training, which is clinical experience, specified in the federal regulation.

While these are significant changes, AB-630 still has a long way to go to become law. The bill now heads to the Wisconsin Senate where passage of AB-630 as amended is uncertain. WALA will continue to work on and monitor this legislation and report to members if further progress is made.

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