House Targets Illegal, Unlicensed Care Homes

Apr 11, 2018

House Health and Human Services Committee members listen to testimony on illegal, unlicensed care homes. (L-R) Representatives Bert Kobayashi, John Mizuno (chair), Lei Learmont, Della Au Belatti.
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

The House Health and Human Services Committee is trying to pass a bill to put illegal care homes out of business. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports.

There are 17-hundred state-licensed long-term care facilities in Hawai’i, serving more than 12-thousand residents.  They’re certified by the Department of Health Office of Health Care Assurance and their operators are required to have background checks, purchase insurance, have training in medication management and food service and be subjected to unannounced inspections.

Dr. Nancy Walch, a care home consultant, testified before the House Committee
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

Dr. Nancy Walch, says unlicensed, illegal care homes pose a danger to patients because of medical mistakes nationwide.


“Ninety-eight thousand people are dying annually from medical errors.  And this is compared to 3 jumbo jets crashing every other day.  It costs one billion dollars every day.”


House Bill 1911 would allow the Department of Health to investigate unlicensed or uncertified operators and levy up to one thousand dollars a day in fines and misdemeanor charges.  House Health and Human Services Committee Chair, John Mizuno, says unlicensed “aging in place” models with separate rental and medical treatment agreements are destroying the industry.


House Health and Human Services Committee chair, John Mizuno, holds up HB1911
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

“The caregiver industry has been extremely honest with me.  They’re done.  There’s no reason to be licensed.  Why would they be licensed and pay these license fees, liability insurance and jump through all the hoops and be forced to have unannounced visits.  They’re done.  And if that collapses, where we gonna put the Medicaid clients?  They’re gonna be homeless.”


House Bill 1911 must be passed by the full Senate, Thursday, to advance to Conference Committee.  Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.