Florida Assisted Living Association Supports Comprehensive Approach to Assisted Living Reforms

 

www.falausa.com

Over 80,000 Floridians currently live in assisted living facilities. These are their homes. The vast majority of these facilities are supportive, safe communities run by caring individuals that provide residents with high quality services. However, as the Miami Herald reported three years ago, there are some facilities that provide care well below acceptable standards. Fortunately, most of the ALF’s cited in the Miami Herald series are no longer in operation.

Florida Assisted Living Association (FALA) has consistently supported tough enforcement of existing laws and rules by the Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA) and has continued to support legislation which improves the assisted living industry, with the highest quality of resident care as our top priority. And AHCA has significantly stepped up its enforcement of existing regulation. During the 2011-12 fiscal year, AHCA imposed over twice the amount of fines on facilities over the previous year.

This legislative session, there are bills proceeding through the House and Senate which would strengthen regulations on assisted living facilities. These bills have been sponsored by two tireless advocates for seniors, Senator Eleanor Sobel and Representative Larry Ahern. Both legislators have worked diligently on this legislation and have committed themselves to passing a final bill which improves the industry.

This legislation makes major improvements to regulation of assisted living facilities by allowing AHCA to impose an immediate moratorium on an unsafe facility, doubling fines and requiring additional inspections for repeat offenders, requiring new employees to attend additional pre-service orientation, assuring that residents with mental health needs receive services, specifying a fine for failing to conduct background screening on employees, increasing applicable staff training for assistance with self-medication, requiring a study of the survey and inspection process to ensure consistency, and permitting AHCA to revoke a facility’s license when the license of a financially related facility has been revoked.

FALA, however, is concerned about the additional fines that could be imposed and the economic impact it may have on small ALF’s - over 50% of the ALFs have six or fewer beds. One of the bills would increase the total amount of fines levied annually by more than 50% over last year and by nearly three times what was levied during the 2009-10 fiscal year.

FALA is also concerned about imposing a new rating system on all licensed ALF’s, just as any of us would be concerned about the government imposing its judgment about our own homes. Finally, FALA is concerned about requiring AHCA to maintain a website where individuals could post anonymous, possibly baseless statements and allegations about individual ALF’s. This has never been done by any state agency and using our seniors’ homes to embark on this experiment is troubling to say the least.

But increasing regulation and fines alone is not enough to achieve the goal of improving the industry. Thousands of Floridians of all ages with mental health disabilities reside in specialty licensed homes that receive just $9.28 per day through a Medicaid program called Assistive Care Services to supplement their social security disability income. This rate hasn’t been increased in over 10 years; in fact it was cut in 2010. But for this funding, many of these individuals would be homeless or living in unlicensed facilities. FALA supports increasing this rate to allow these people to continue living in their homes.

ALF’s are an important alternative to nursing home care for our seniors and disabled population – the economic viability of assisted living must be balanced against overreaching fines and regulations.

Luis Collazo is the President of the Florida Assisted Living Association (FALA), the professional organization representing over 500 assisted living facilities and adult family care home members caring for more than 24,000 residents. He can be reached at lcollazo@aol.com.

Read more From Our Inbox stories from the Miami Herald

  • There’s a better way to rescue Malaysia Airlines

    On Friday, Khazanah Nasional, the parent company of Malaysian Airline System, announced the airline’s fourth and most radical restructuring since its founding in 1972. This one, too, is likely to fail. The real challenge, though, isn’t overcoming the twin tragedies of MH370 and MH17 and the loss of passenger confidence (and ticket revenue) that followed. Rather, the problem is the spectacular growth of Southeast Asian discount airlines, which have wreaked havoc on state-subsidized flag carriers such as Malaysia Airlines that used to have the region all to themselves.

  • Between Godliness and Godlessness

    Almost midway through Sam Harris’ new book, Waking Up, he paints a scene that will shock many of his fans, who know him as one of the country’s most prominent and articulate atheists.

  • There is no free pass for a free press

    New York Times reporter James Risen may soon have to decide whether to testify in a criminal trial or go to jail for contempt of court.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

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