UNLICENSED HOME CARE ORGANIZATIONS RISK FINES AND CLOSURE BY STATE « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


California’s Home Care Organization Consumer Protection Act (the Act) required all home care agencies to be licensed before July 1, 2016. See Home Health Care Organizations Last Chance to Continue Operations After June 30, 2016 (June, 2016). If as a home care organization (HCO) you did not obtain a license by June 30, 2016 — or at least a conditional license — and are continuing to operate without one, you are in jeopardy of being investigated by the Home Care Services Bureau (HCSB).

The HCSB is receiving a large volume of inquiries about unlicensed HCOs. Such an inquiry puts the HCSB on notice to start an investigation, which it does within 10 days of the inquiry, first checking if the company in question is exempt from the requirements of the Act. Some examples of exempt businesses are hospices, home health agencies, and domestic referral agencies. Health and Safety Code 1796.17(b).

If no exemption applies, then the unlicensed HCO will be required to shut down or apply for a license immediately. An unlicensed HCO is subject to a potential fine of $900 for every day it continues in operation without at least a conditional license. Written Directives Version III (WD) 90.006 (p. 10); WD 90.026 (pp. 22-23); and Health and Safety Code 1796.55.

Since the HCSB began implementing the Act, its approach has been one of help and not punishment. With the HCSB still in its early stage of operations, its staff realize that some companies remain unaware of the Act and the requirement to register. In dealing with unlicensed HCOs, HCSB staff will consider the situation of each one that comes to its attention in determining if fines are required.

If the HCSB issues a conditional license, it is good for four months or until a license is issued, whichever is sooner, and can be extended up to three additional months. When an HCO applies for a conditional license, it is no longer considered unlicensed and no longer subject to the $900/day penalty.

On the other hand, if an unlicensed HCO refuses to apply for licensure, it is subject to the $900/day fine for as long as it continues to operate, and may also be referred for criminal prosecution if the HCSB determines that would be a more effective remedy. Health and Safety Code 1796.55. The Act also makes the operation of an unlicensed HCO a misdemeanor, subject to a $1,000 fine and imprisonment for up to 180 days. Health and Safety Code 1796.58.

If you are operating an unlicensed HCO, you are in jeopardy. It is predictable that HCOs that have complied with the Act or even consumers who do not find you listed on the HCSB website will report you to the HCSB. We urge you to confront the situation now before you run into problems.

For more information, please contact one of our attorneys Tim Bowles, Cindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.

Helena Kobrin
October 14, 2016