November 27, 2017

Home care registry bill signed by Baker

A bill signed by Gov. Charlie Baker requires the Department of Elder Affairs to set up a registry of all workers employed by home care agencies.

Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday signed one bill creating a registry of home care workers and vetoed another that would have created a commission to explore ways to use a public health trauma registry to address inequalities in access to health care.

The actions taken by the governor the day after Thanksgiving clear his desk of bills sent there in the final days of formal sessions for the year. He had until Saturday to act on these final two pieces.

The home care registry bill (H 3821) charges the Department of Elder Affairs with setting up a registry of all workers employed by home care agencies, including names, addresses and training information, with exemptions for victims of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault or stalking.

The bill was opposed by the Home Care Aide Council, Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts chapter of the Home Care Association of America out of fear that it would put home care workers at risk. Baker previously proposed an amendment that would allow home care aides to opt out of inclusion in the registry, but he signed the bill Friday promising care in implementation.

"Massachusetts home care workers provide critically important services to loved ones across the Commonwealth and the administration will work diligently with the legislature, home care workers, and all stakeholders involved to ensure the registry regulations are implemented responsibly," Baker spokesman Brendan Moss said.

The bill the governor vetoed (H 3827) would have created a nine-member commission, chaired by the Department of Public Health, to encourage new ways of using and sharing data from the DPH trauma registry to improve access to health care.

Baker returned the bill as an outside section of the fiscal 2018 budget in July suggesting that DPH alone do the work. In his veto letter, Baker again said, "While I support the objectives of this proposed legislation, it is not necessary to create a new commission to address these issues, and it is not an effective use of DPH's limited resources to do so."


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