Activists and advocates for seniors in Florida are making their voices heard, and are on the verge of accomplishing a major legislative achievement to assure that seniors in assisted living facilities and adult care homes receive quality care.
In a January blog posted we outlined campaigns by Florida legislators and elder advocates to update rules and regulations for assisted living communities and adult family care homes. The campaign to encourage lawmakers in Tallahassee increase oversight on assisted living communities and care homes was largely prompted by a series of investigative articles by the Miami Herald that outed several care homes that were offering for inexcusably poor care and also highlighted how lack supervision by Florida’s Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA) allowed these cases of abuse and neglect to occur.
Widespread Support for Long Overdue Law in Florida
The Miami Herald series was published two years and advocates have been navigating the legislative system ever since in an effort to tighten supervision of senior communities. Some elder advocates were attempting to make these changes to AHCA policy even before the Miami Herald articles brought the issue to the forefront. During this time number of bills have been proposed by legislators to address the senior activists’ and advocates’ concerns, but none passed into law. But the tide may be turning for Florida’s SB 646. In a state where only 22% of Senate bills become law, it looks like it’s poised to overcome the odds. It was approved unanimously last week by Florida’s Senate Health Policy Committee. The bill would still need to be approved by Florida’s full Senate and House, and signed by the governor, but the fact that the bill was approved unanimously with bipartisan support means that it will most certainly become law. Its unanimous, bipartisan support in committee isn’t the only sign indicating this bill will become law. For example, while the senior care industry frequently resists increased regulation and oversight of communities, they seem amenable to this law. The Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) is tracking the bill but has not issued a statement in opposition of the bill as it has with similar bills in other states.
How SB 646 Would Affect Assisted Living in Florida
SB 646 gives AHCA more enforcement authority and a mandate to conduct more inspections. If approved SB 646 will:
- Increase the number of required inspections, including unnounced inspections
- Create a consumer-friendly grading system to help seniors and their loved ones easily gauge facility quality
- Increase fines for violations
- Make it easier for the AHCA to revoke the licenses of communities providing inadequate care
We applaud these common sense reforms to Florida’s assisted living laws. If passed, this law will help keep seniors safe and assure that community’s are up to standards. No high quality community would fear an inspection, so this bill won’t adversely impact communities that already operating by the book, while at the same time sending a message to communities that need improvement that they must “shape up or be shut down.”
To learn about assisted living rules and regulations where you live, check out our assisted living rules and regulations page, the only reference source of this kind of the web. From our state laws page you can access a simple summary of each state’s assisted living rules and regulations.
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