After receiving fines by the state government between 2007 and 2012, a recent look into the collections process finds many assisted living communities in California have not yet paid the amounts they owe.
As part of its investigation into assisted living published online and via PBS television earlier this year, ProPublica found the California Department of Social Services has received less than half of the $2 million total it fined assisted living communities during the five-year period.
Further, ProPublica found the CDSS does not know how many inspections of assisted living communities take place in California each year, nor how many allegations of abuse, medication errors and injuries are reported.
Also according to the research, in 39 of the “worst” 50 cases, the fines have not been paid.
“The current system is a recipe for neglect and abuse,” Pat McGinnis, executive director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform told ProPublica. “Care standards are almost meaningless. Facilities can flout the law without facing serious consequences.”
The investigation inquired with California officials, seeking records of their oversight of the state’s 7,700 assisted living facilities. It found the officials could not produce they basic data the investigators were seeking.
“For example, they could not say how many inspections the department conducts each year, or how many “unusual incidents” – injuries, abuse allegations, medication errors – the facilities report to the state,” ProPublica reported.
Further, the research showed some communities ultimately pay only a small portion of the fine.
“Our review shows that troubled facilities often pay pennies on the dollar after they have been fined,” ProPublica writes. “A Southern California facility hit with $19,200 in fines in 2009 paid only $1,600. Another facility was fined $5,400 but wound up writing a check for $600.”
Written by Elizabeth Ecker