Panel revives effort to reform residential care for the elderly

Panel revives effort to reform residential care for the elderly

JACKSONVILLE — After a failed attempt to pass legislation to protect the frail and elderly in assisted-living facilities, industry experts reconvened in Jacksonville Monday with the hope of hammering out measures to curb abuse while appeasing the powerful long-term care industry.

The panel was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott last year to address rampant wrongdoing in ALFs but lawmakers failed to pass any of the workgroup’s proposals in March. The meeting was the first attempt to revive the effort.

The panel’s recommendations, and the resulting bills, would have yielded the most sweeping reforms in a generation for the state’s 2,850 living facilities, but fell through at the last minute amidst heavy lobbying by the industry and political infighting.

State budget concerns, combined with the industry’s lobbying grip on the Legislature, make it unclear whether the panel’s recommendations will ever make it to law. Some panelists said they would like to see more state oversight, but the Agency for Health Care Administration, which oversees the state’s ALFs, faces already-strained resources.

“Some of the things we’re talking about now that require extra funding may not occur this year or next year,” said Larry Polivka, chair of the meeting and head of the Claude Pepper Foundation. “But given the importance of this program, I really do believe it’s going to be at the top of the priority list when more funding does become available.”
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