Back in 2011, a Miami Herald investigation uncovered evidence of elder abuse and neglect in assisted living facilities across the state of Florida. Since then, politicians have been working to pass legislation to reform assisted living facilities in Florida. However, according to an article in the Miami Herald, the bill failed to pass again on the last day of the legislative session in Florida.
While this legislation (or the lack of it) would primarily affect residents in Florida, the state’s concerns about abuse and neglect in assisted living facilities are just as relevant here in California. Do you have a loved one who is currently in an assisted living facility? If you’re concerned about abuse and neglect in nursing homes or assisted living facilities in southern California, contact an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer today to discuss your case.
History of the Legislation
The investigation, which prompted legislators to take action for reforms, discovered that “at least 70 residents of assisted living facilities had died from abuse and neglect since 2002.” In response to this report, Florida Governor Rick Scott “vowed to make improvements.” While he did form a task force in 2011 that “developed forceful reforms,” during the 2012 legislative session the House and the Senate were unable to agree to any reform measures based on the recommendations of that task force.
In April 2013, the Florida Senate passed SB 646, a bill introduced by Senator Eleanor Sobel that proposed a new set of reforms related to assisted living facilities in the state. The bill would tighten state “oversight of Florida’s nearly 3,000 assisted living facilities.” In the Senate, the bill passed unanimously with a 38-0 vote. However, no companion measures gained popularity in the Florida House of Representatives.
In hopes of getting the House to pass the Senate bill, Sobel added the reforms from SB 646 to an omnibus healthcare bill that had been sponsored by Senator Aaron Bean. However, the omnibus healthcare bill “was later weighed down with dozens of amendments.” As a result, the bill was never heard. The Florida Senate session notes reported that the bill “died in the House.”
Jack McRay, the AARP Florida advocacy manager, told the Miami Herald that he was “hugely disappointed” that the bill didn’t pass. “In the next go-around,” he said, “the Legislature ought to focus more on protecting residents of assisted living facilities than protecting the industry.”
What Reforms Did the Legislation Propose?
According to the Miami Herald, the reforms proposed in Sobel’s bill were actually less stringent than those proposed in 2012, although it still contained importation regulations “to help protect residents.” Given that the bill “wasn’t as tough as last year’s effort,” it’s surprising that the bill still failed to pass.
Specifically, SB 646 would have required “more standard inspections,” and it would have required specialty licenses for assisted living facilities housing at least one mental health patient. In addition, it would have required that those facilities draw up specific plans for its residents’ mental healthcare.
In conjunction with licensure requirements, the bill would have created a rating system for assisted living facilities, as well as a consumer guide. And in order to penalize facilities that failed to maintain certain standards, the bill also would have led to “more equitable fines for violations,” meaning that larger facilities would pay larger fines than the smaller ones. According to the executive director of the Florida Assisted Living Association, the bill could have led to positive changes in the state.
Advocates in Florida plan to continue moving for assisted living facility reforms in the state. But it’s important to keep in mind that elderly abuse and neglect occurs across the United States, and California residents are also at risk. If you or a loved one have suffered abuse or neglect while in a nursing home or assisted living facility, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact us today to discuss your claim.
See Related Blog Posts:
Staffing Shortages Can Lead to Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
January 1 = Stricter California Elder Abuse Reporting Laws