ALF reform bill moves forward

A proposal to police assisted living facilities and punish those that that abuse or neglect their residents was approved unanimously Tuesday by the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee Tuesday.

The bill (SPB 7010) would require the Agency for Health Care Administration to revoke or deny the license of ALFs whose staffers affect a resident’s health, safety or welfare in a negative and deliberate manner.

It would double the fines for repeated serious violations and require an additional inspection within six months in those cases. It would also require that ALFs with one or more, rather than three or more, state-supported mental health residents to obtain a limited mental health license, and require AHCA to propose a rating system for ALFs by Nov. 1, 2013.

Pat Lange, executive director of the Florida Assisted Living Association, praised a provision to require AHCA to conduct a survey to determine the consistency with which regulations are applied to facilities and report its findings by Nov. 1, 2013.

"We think that is a good provision," Lange said. "We would just like to see it done by an independent body."

Last year, a similar measure passed the Senate, but the House didn’t take it up. And so far this year, there’s no House companion.

"In the interests of our seniors, we cannot afford to stand by and do nothing, as we did last year when the ALF reform bill was killed," said Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, and the committee chair. "We did something in the Senate. The House did not. And nothing happened."