16 May Florida assisted living task force renews reform effort
TALLAHASSEE – Advocates for the elderly were crushed earlier this year when – after Gov. Rick Scott and top lawmakers vowed to better protect the 80,000 residents of assisted living facilities – no legislation was passed.
Months of reports in the Miami Herald of people dying in ALFs statewide – a near-monthly occurrence since 2002 – prompted Scott to appoint a task force to investigate and a Miami-Dade grand jury to push for tightened oversight.
But despite the public momentum, House and Senate leaders couldn’t agree on a legislative remedy. After the Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill to beef up inspections of troubled ALFs and shut down the worst offenders, the House refused to take up the measure.
Now, though, reform efforts are ramping up again, with the governor’s ALF task force resuming its meetings in June, said Jane Johnson, health and human services policy coordinator for the governor’s office.
The panel will add two new members to better represent consumers, one from AARP and one from the Florida Life Care Residents Association, Johnson said. It will hold three meetings at three locations around the state and send its report – including suggested legislation – to the governor in September.