1997 Regular Session

To: Public Health and Welfare

By: Representative Moody

House Bill 812



SECTION 1. As used in this act:

(a) "Private duty health care agency" or "agency" means any person, firm, corporation, partnership, association or of any subdivision thereof, authorized to conduct business in Mississippi, which is primarily engaged in the business of providing or procuring health care services in an individual's place of residence by nursing personnel, including but not limited to, licensed nurses, certified nurses' aides, speech therapists, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, occupational therapists or social workers. These agencies are organizations that provide one or more of the following:

(i) Private duty health care services carried out by individuals who work as individual contract agents or as employees subject to withholding taxes.

(ii) Private duty health care services provided by individuals who are referred to patients as candidates for employment by the patient or family. The referred individuals are not employees of the organization. The organization is paid for its services by a fee collected from either the prospective employer or the referring individual.

(iii) Private duty health care services provided by employees who visit patients in order to perform specific health care tasks. The tasks are performed in the patient's individual place of residence or in a room in a health care or long-term care facility. These services are provided for an agreed upon schedule of hours per day, week or other specified period.

(b) "Board" means the State Board of Health.

(c) "Department" means the State Department of Health.

SECTION 2. The board shall promulgate rules and regulations to implement the provisions of this act.

SECTION 3. (1) A regular license shall be issued to each private duty health care agency that meets the requirements as set forth by the board.

(2) The board shall establish performance requirements for which compliance cannot be demonstrated until after a license is issued and operations have commenced. Accordingly the initial license issued to any applicant shall be identified as "provisional" and shall provide the licensee with six (6) months to demonstrate full compliance through on-site inspection. A provisional license is an unrestricted license and does not imply any adverse action. A provisional license shall not be extended beyond the initial six (6) months of licensure. Inability to demonstrate full compliance within the specified period shall be cause for adverse action.

(3) All licenses shall be renewed annually to each private duty health care agency that meets the requirements set forth by the board.

SECTION 4. (1) Application for a license or renewal of a license shall be made in writing to the department on forms provided by the department that shall contain such information as the department may require. The application shall require reasonable affirmative evidence of ability to comply with these minimum standards. License fees, as determined by the board, shall be submitted with each application.

(2) The license shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the licensed premises and shall be available for review by any and all interested individuals.

(3) The license for a private duty health care agency is not transferable or assignable to any other person except by written approval of the department and shall be issued only for the person and location named in the application. The license shall be surrendered to the department upon a change of ownership, name or location of the agency or if the agency ceases to be in operation. If there is a change of ownership, name or location of the agency, or change in services, a new application shall be filed at least thirty (30) days before the effective date of the change.

(4) The department shall employ a system of initial and renewal applications, complaint investigation and on-site inspections as the means for monitoring and determining program compliance. Routine licensing renewal activities may be conducted by mail. If there is noncompliance with any rule or regulation of the board, the business shall be given no more than thirty (30) days to correct the noncompliance. Failure to comply with all applicable licensure standards shall be cause for adverse actions.

SECTION 5. The department, after notice and opportunity for a hearing to the applicant or licensee, is authorized to deny, suspend, revoke or otherwise restrict a license in any case in which it finds that there has been a failure to comply with the requirements established under this act and minimum standards established under this act. The following also may be grounds for denial or revocation of license:

(a) Fraud on the part of the licensee in applying for a license;

(b) Violations by the licensee of the minimum standards established by the department;

(c) Publicly misrepresenting the agency and/or its services;

(d) Conduct or practices detrimental to the health or safety of patients and employees of the agency; however, this provision shall not be construed to have any reference to healing practices authorized by law. Detrimental practices include, but are not necessarily limited to:

(i) Cruelty to patients or indifference to their needs that are essential to their general well-being and health.

(ii) Misappropriation of the money or property of a patient.

(iii) Failure to provide safe care to any patient.

SECTION 6. (1) The department shall provide an opportunity for a hearing to every applicant or licensee who is dissatisfied with administrative decisions made in the denial or revocation of license. The department, after notice and opportunity for a hearing to the applicant or licensee, is authorized to deny, suspend, revoke or otherwise restrict a license in any case in which it finds that the applicant or licensee has failed to comply with the requirements established by this act or the rules, regulations or standards promulgated in furtherance of this act. Such notice shall be given by registered mail, or by personal service, at which time the applicant or licensee shall be given an opportunity for a prompt and fair hearing. On the basis of any such hearing, or upon default of the applicant or licensee, the department shall make determination specifying its findings of fact and conclusions of law. A copy of such determination shall be sent by registered mail or served personally upon the applicant or licensee. The decision revoking, suspending or denying the license or application shall become final thirty (30) days after it is so mailed or served, unless the applicant or licensee, within such thirty-day period, appeals the decision to either the Chancery Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County or the chancery court of the county in which the applicant or licensee resides. The procedure governing hearings shall be in accordance with rules and regulations promulgated by the department.

(2) Any person or persons or other entity or entities establishing, managing or operating a private duty health care agency or conducting the business of a private duty health care agency without the required license, or otherwise violating any of the provisions of this act or the rules, regulations or standards promulgated and established in furtherance of this act, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) for each offense. Each day of a continuing violation shall be considered a separate offense. The department may seek injunctive relief if it deems such action necessary after consulting with the State Attorney General.

SECTION 7. Information received by the department through filed reports, inspection or as otherwise authorized under this act shall not be disclosed publicly in such manner as to identify individuals, except in proceedings involving the question of licensure; however, the department may utilize statistical data concerning types of services and the utilization of those services for private duty health care agencies in performing the duties imposed on it by state or federal law and regulations.

SECTION 8. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.