A Senate hearing, addressing the recent tragedies in group homes for the mentally ill in Florida chronicled by the Miami Herald, was conducted yesterday with the aim of developing policies that promote quality and affordability.
The Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing: Ensuring Quality and Oversight in Assisted Living was called by Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) in response to a Miami Herald series chronicling incidents of neglect and abuse that occurred mainly in group homes that serve the mentally ill Medicaid population, which are licensed as assisted living in the state of Florida. The hearing’s goal was to develop policies that would prevent future tragedies like those seen in Florida.
Panelists made the point that assisted living is regulated in all 50 states and what is needed is not more regulation but better enforcement of current regulations. Dr. Larry Polivka from the Claude Pepper Foundation in Florida is chairing the Work Group called by the Governor of Florida to come up with recommendations to make sure these tragedies are not repeated. Polvika said that the report will be completed at the end of November and will provide recommendations to strengthen state enforcement and get rid of chronic poor performing providers.
Many argued against further federal regulation of assisted living. “The Federal government has a tendency to create one size fits all policies that can in some cases hurt the situation,” cautioned Senator Bob Corker (R-TN.) ALFA President & CEO Richard P. Grimes echoed this sentiment in written testimony, “State oversight of assisted living allows customized laws and regulations to reflect the needs of seniors who reside in the state,” wrote Grimes. “The diversity of our states does not allow for a one-size-fits-all model as the expectations and needs of seniors in one state are often very different from the expectations and needs of seniors in another state.”
Despite some promising aspects of the hearing, there was some misinformation presented and it was apparent that there remains a lack of understanding and knowledge about assisted living by some members of Congress. ALFA will continue ongoing efforts to educate and inform elected officials and their staff about the needs of seniors. Watch the complete hearing: Ensuring Quality and Oversight in Assisted Living or read Richard P. Grimes’ written testimony submitted for the record.
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