Court of Appeals Upholds Epple Bill

July 23, 2019
Contact Deborah Pacyna   

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District has upheld the constitutionality of the so-called “Epple Bill” which allows skilled nursing facilities to continue to serve individuals who lack the capacity to make medical decisions and have no one willing or able to make such decisions on their behalf.

In its decision, CANHR v. Smith (formerly Chapman) the court overturned a 2015 decision by the Alameda County Superior Court that declared the statute unconstitutional.  Skilled nursing facilities have used Health and Safety Code 1418.8 to make medical decisions for residents who lack mental capacity or do not have family or other decision makers available since 1992.

“This ruling means an interdisciplinary team of caregivers will continue to be able to formulate and implement care plans for up to 12,000 individuals covered by the law,” said Craig Cornett, CAHF CEO/President. “We are gratified that the court has brought clarity to this important issue so our members can continue to insure the well-being of these residents.”  

An interdisciplinary team is comprised of a physician, a registered nurse with responsibility for the resident and other appropriate staff in disciplines based on resident need. The new ruling includes the additional requirement of oral and written notice to the affected residents, as well as the presence of independent resident representatives when family members or friends are not available.

CAHF is committed to work with the California Department of Public Health, member facilities and others stakeholders to meet the new conditions established by the court.

Read the decision here.