Florida Senate Bills Crack Down on Assisted Living Elder Abuse

Assisted living laws in Florida could go from one side of the spectrum to the other in the wake of the Miami Herald’s series on elder abuse that occurred in many state facilities, with little or no ramifications.

Now, Florida lawmakers are looking to shift the state’s caretaker oversight from negligent to possibly the toughest in the nation, according to a Miami Herald article, recently passing committee bills 7176 and 7174.

With rampant abuse across the state, key lawmakers are calling for homes to be shut down when residents die from shoddy care, and caretakers banned from the industry, in the biggest changes in state law since the creation of ALFs a generation ago.

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Unveiled this week by two Senate committees, the dual bills follow months of reports by The Miami Herald that showed frail elders were living in squalor and dangerous conditions while regulators failed to crack down on the worst abusers.

“[The state] wasn’t doing its job,” said Sen. Nan Rich, a Weston Democrat and vice chair of the Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee. “They were not enforcing the regulations, and not closing down facilities that didn’t correct the violations and abuse.”

The proposal includes comprehensive legislation that seeks to improve oversight such as mandatory penalties in fatal neglect cases and a public ratings system derived from a facility’s regulatory history, the article reports.

Additionally, the regulatory reform bills take some power away from Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration, which in the course of the investigation has faced scrutiny for failure to shut down or adequately penalize troubled facilities.

The full Miami Herald article lists several proposals from Rich’s Elder Affairs Committee and the state Senate’s Health Regulation Committee.

Written by Alyssa Gerace