Monday, November 14, 2011
FL Task Force Pushes Some ALF Reforms, Delays Others
After years of miserable deaths in assisted-living facilities, a governor’s task force is pushing Florida’s elected leaders to give the state more powerful tools to fight the worst abusers, saying more drastic action is needed to protect frail residents.
After hours of debate, the special panel voted to go to the Legislature to ensure that rogue homes are hit with the harshest penalties, including banning new residents at homes that commit serious offenses, and punishment for ALFs that retaliate against residents for complaining to elder advocates.
The task force’s meeting on Tuesday in Miami-Dade — the final session of the group appointed by Gov. Rick Scott — is expected to be the first step toward major changes in Florida’s law governing an industry that has come under increasing fire over reports of egregious abuse and poor enforcement.
“This is about vulnerable people who are pretty much at the mercy of others,” said Martha Lenderman, a member of the task force, after the session. “And some of them end up at pretty appalling places.”
Throughout the session at Florida International University, task force members sparred over a range of crucial proposals intended to bring greater oversight.
ALF owners on the task force voted unanimously against a recommendation from a state lawmaker that homes allow so-called “granny cams” to let relatives view their loved ones while they’re in their own rooms. ALF owners and employees in the audience shouted “kill it” as the panel began to vote.
The panel also rejected — with industry representatives voting as a unified front — several recommendations that would have increased inspections of homes by the Agency for Health Care Administration, drawing applause from the crowd of mostly ALF owners and employees.
The task force’s recommendations follow the release of a legislative interim report that calls for even more stringent measures to crack down on rogue facilities, including increased inspections, fines and empowering regulators to immediately shut down homes where residents were found dying of abuse or neglect.
A Miami Herald investigation in May found 70 cases of death by abuse and neglect in homes since 2002, but the homes were never closed.
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Task Force Pushes Some ALF Reforms, Delays Others
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