Prompted by reports of substandard care and abuse, the Senate is poised to pass much tougher standards for Florida’s assisted living facilities, but the initial reaction from key House members and lobbyists remains unclear as bills began to move Thursday.
There was no opposition Thursday as two Senate panels passed committee bills that would tighten Florida’s oversight of ALFs. The Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee passed SPB 7176, while the Senate Health Regulation Committee passed SPB 7174 – both of which would close ALFs when a resident dies of abuse or neglect.
The bills would also increase monitoring and criminal sanctions, boost the qualifications for administrators and staffers, and give residents and their families more protection.
“This could be really watershed legislation in protecting the lives of 80,000 individuals who live in assisted living facilities in this state,” Bob Sharpe, CEO of the Florida Council for Community Mental Health, told lawmakers. “If you’re successful in sustaining the provisions of this bill throughout the session, you will have done a remarkable thing.”
In the wake of last year’s Miami Herald investigative series “Neglected to Death,” lawmakers began responding to reports of dreadful conditions and care at some of the state’s nearly 3,000 ALFs. Statewide, residents were dying of abuse and neglect at a rate of nearly one per month. The Herald also found that inspections by the Agency for Health Care Administration had dropped 33 percent over the past five years, even as reports of abuse and neglect increased.
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Assisted Living Facilities Under the Gun