Hawaii lawmakers are considering a bill that would require the state to post inspection reports of adult care homes online. The measure is intended to make it easier for patients and families to judge a facility, but a local caregivers’ advocate says the move would drive many care homes out of business.

“The overregulation and extraordinary oversight of this industry has beaten it in the ground and has driven many legitimate operators out of business while driving up the costs of operations to the state,” Esther Pascual, president of the United Group of Home Operators, said in her testimony against Senate Bill 358.

UGHO is a member organization of the Hawaii Coalition of Care Home Administrators, which represents 500 adult residential care homes caring for about 2,500 of Hawaii’s elderly and disabled. Pascual has been a caregiver for more than 40 years.

The bill also covers nearly 1,500 assisted living facilities and community care foster family homes. Hawaii’s 51 nursing homes, which are federally regulated, already post online inspection reports showing whether there’s a history of violations and what’s been done to fix the problems.

So have many caregivers closed their doors because of too many government regulations?

There’s no evidence to suggest that’s the case and in fact the number of adult care homes has remained about the same for many years.

Pascual would not produce any evidence to back up her claim.

When asked if she knew of any specific caregivers who had been driven out of business by overregulation, Pascual said she knew of at least a dozen. But she declined to provide any names saying they were “confidential.”

There are currently more than 501 licensed adult care facilities in Hawaii, a number that has stayed constant for at least the past decade, according to Lilia Fajotina, president of the Alliance of Residential Care Administrators. She also testified against the bill.

But Fajotina told Civil Beat that she thinks the number of homes has stayed the same because as people retire, new people are coming in. She also believes “people leave because the rules become onerous and stricter,” but she, too, could not provide any evidence to support that assertion.

And there’s been little change in how the state regulates and inspects adult care facilities. John McDermott, the state’s long-term care ombudsman, says that “the rules have not changed to make it more difficult to be a caregiver” since they were amended in 2006. The Department of Health has always conducted inspections. SB358 would simply make the results available online.

“The reason we do inspections is to protect the public, so why are we making it so difficult for the public to get the information they already paid for?” said McDermott, who supports the bill. Right now if someone wants to look at a report, he or she has to submit a written letter and wait 10 to 15 days for the state to respond.

“Even restaurant inspections are going online, and I’m more interested in the quality care of my grandmother than the quality care of a hamburger,” McDermott said.

The bill cleared the Senate Health Committee last month and was referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The House companion bill, HB 120, had a public hearing on Wednesday.

BOTTOM LINE: Pascual said that overregulation has driven adult care home operators out of business and that a proposal by the state to post inspection reports online would exacerbate this trend. But she could not provide any evidence to support her claim. Additionally, the number of registered adult care homes has remained almost constant for the last decade. Pascual appears to have made the statement with no facts to support it. Civil Beat finds her statement to be FALSE.