Neglected to Death: Key Events


Thursday at noon: Join us for a conversation with reporters about Life and Death in Assisting Living: WLRN Miami Herald News anchor Phil Latzman goes behind-the-scenes with the investigative team to discuss the findings and implications of their yearlong investigation.


• Landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision bans states from confining citizens to institutions if they are non-dangerous and capable of living by themselves or with relatives — leading to the closing of psychiatric facilities and leaving a large number of people in need of housing.

• Licensing of Adult Congregate Living Facilities in Florida begins, with passage of state law setting basic standards for people living in boarding-house settings with a staff to prepare meals and manage medications for residents.


• The Florida Legislature passes the first comprehensive regulations for ACLFs, establishing licensing standards, a fraud enforcement unit to protect Medicaid funds, and a bill of rights for group-home residents.


• Federal legislation creates a program allowing states to use long-term care money available through Medicaid to pay for residents’ room and board at group homes.


Amendments are passed in Florida drawing clear distinctions between nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, where people need help with everyday chores but not 24-hour nursing care.


• The state has 1,400 assisted-living facilities housing 42,000 people.


Florida’s population nearly doubles between 1970 and 1990 — from 6.7 million to 12.9 million — creating waves of elderly and disabled people in need of housing and care.


• The creation of the Florida Department of Elder Affairs with Bentley Lipscomb as the director. One of the agency’s goals: protect the rights of the elderly in assisted-living facilities and nursing homes.


• Agency for Health Care Administration becomes chief regulator of ACLFs after splitting from the state Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services.

• There are now 1,568 ACLFs throughout the state.


• The Florida Legislature refuses to increase funding for inspections of ACLFs despite their growth across the state. As a result, inspections are reduced from once a year to once every two years.


• The state renames Adult Congregate Living Facilities as Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs), an emerging housing model that’s expected to surpass nursing homes as the signature facilities for elderly and mentally ill people.

• A newly revamped Elder Abuse Law in the Florida Legislature makes it easier for prosecutors to push for felonies against people who abuse or exploit elderly and disabled people.


• The state adopts a law requiring ALFs housing people with mental illness to obtain a special license. It also requires facilities that care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders to meet standards of operation, including requirements that homes with 17 or more residents have an awake staff member on duty at all hours, and that all employees have a minimum level of training.

• The state is now home to 1,922 ALFs.


Operation Spot Check: Attorney General Bob Butterworth expands a program that draws together multiple agencies to carry out surprise inspections of troubled homes that received Medicaid funding. The agencies include the state attorney general’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, AHCA, the Department of Children & Families, Florida’s Long Term Care Ombudsman Council, state attorneys, and local fire and code inspectors. The goal: rooting out neglect and abuse.


• Florida now has 2,305 ALFs.


• State legislators pass sweeping tort reforms that slash the amount of insurance ALF owners are required to carry, set limits on lawsuits — making it more difficult for lawyers to sue facilities — and end the practice of awarding attorneys’ fees in cases that do not involve death or serious injury.

• The state House of Representatives passes a bill that


Florida adopts new laws raising the penalty for aggravated abuse of elderly and disabled people to a first-degree felony.


The state now has 2,850 ALFs housing more than 80,000 people.


Read more Neglected to Death stories from the Miami Herald


    ALF reforms go undone in Tallahassee

    For the third straight year, legislators have failed to pass reforms to the state’s troubled assisted-living facilities industry. Backers vow to press ahead once again next year.


    State elder-care watchdog job search re-opened

    The new hire will be the third person in less than three years to lead the volunteer ombudsmen who visit assisted-living facilities and nursing homes to ensure that residents receive adequate care.


    Senate panel wants end to unlicensed ALF’s

    Following a Miami Herald story about unlicensed assisted-living facilities using loopholes to escape state scrutiny, lawmakers sought to shut them down.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category