Monday, January 22, 2007

Rep. Stevenson Defends Motion

Rep. Bryan Stevenson (R-Webb City) said his motion to defeat a set of state rules for assisted living facilities is "not a statement on policy," but rather a question of "statutory authority."

Stevenson is pushing a motion in a committee to strip close to two dozen Department of Health and Senior Services rules from legislation designed to regulate the residential facility industry.

Stevenson, the vice-chair of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), said his motion, "in no way reflects his opinion of the legislation."

"Our committee has a very narrow focus, and that is to ensure rules and regulations fit within our guidelines. There were 120 pages of regulations. A few went beyond statutory limits allowed," Stevenson said. "They didn't fit in the framework of the statute."

"But this is not a policy debate. If a Representative or Senator wants to introduce legislation to allow these changes, that is a different story," he added.

Stevenson's motion includes stripping language requiring background checks for workers in facilities, specific responsibilities for workers during an emergency, immunizations for residents and staffing provisions. For the specific list, click here.

When I asked Stevenson if he would introduce legislation to make these rules legally sound, he said he would not.

"I'm not going to do that. I mean, I wouldn't be opposed to it. I'd probably support legislation that did it, but it's not something I have time to file," Rep. Stevenson said.

When I asked Stevenson for an example of why the rules weren't written correctly, he pointed to the requirement of a medication regimen. "They left doctors out. That rule would allow medical plans to be approved by certain individuals, but left out doctors," he said.

So why not just add doctors rather than eliminate the entire rule?

"I can only disapprove things, I can't add them in," Stevenson explained. "We don't have the authority to add regulations."

I also asked Stevenson if he could support some of the rules as policy, such as staffing requirements for residential homes. "It depends on what type of facility you are talking about," Stevenson replied.

Stevenson's motion will be considered at a JCAR hearing to be scheduled either Wednesday or Thursday of this week. "I think all the major issues I've raised will be resolved, one way or another," Stevenson said.

When I asked how they would be resolved, he said, "Either I will withdraw my objections or the department will agree to make changes or I will get the votes to pass it."

"JCAR is probably one of the least understood committees, but it's a very, very important committee. It's different because it is not a legislative-driven committee. We simply review regulations. We sort of sit as judges," Stevenson said.

The chair of the JCAR, Sen. Luann Ridgeway, has not yet returned a call for comment.

No comments: