Bill to License Assisted Living, Memory Care Communities Introduced in Minnesota

Minnesota, one of the least-regulated states for assisted living according to a consumer workgroup, may soon join other U.S. states in mandating that these communities are licensed.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, a member of the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party, on Tuesday announced a $15 million package of bipartisan legislation that would introduce new licensing requirements for assisted living and memory care communities in the state, MPR News reported.

Specifically, under the House version of the bill (HF 3468), no assisted living provider would be able to operate in Minnesota after January 1, 2020, without having first secured a license. The bill calls for licensing standards to be proposed by Feb. 1, 2019, with requirements established in collaboration with providers as well as consumer advocates and residents.

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It’s possible that a tiered system of licensure could be implemented, the bill suggests. For instance, one type of license might cover a community offering basic services such as dietary or transportation, with a different license covering communities that offer more robust assistance with activities of daily living, transfers and specialty care.

Additionally, after January 1, 2020, an individual would not be permitted to serve as an assisted living community administrator or executive director without securing a license from the Minnesota Commissioner of Health beforehand.

The newly proposed legislation comes after the Minnesota Department of Health received 25,226 allegations of physical abuse, thefts, neglect and unexplained serious injuries within state-licensed homes for the elderly in 2017.

In response to these allegations, as well as reports that 97% of these claims were never investigated, Dayton asked AARP Minnesota to establish a consumer workgroup to create new senior care-related recommendations for the state. In a January 2018 report, the workgroup noted that “Minnesota is an outlier in comparison to other states when it comes to regulation of assisted living, [as] all other states require licensure or similar public oversight for these settings.”

The workgroup’s resulting recommendations, as well as a report published last week from the state’s Office of the Legislative Auditor, were taken into consideration when drafting the proposed legislation, according to MPR News.

The proposed legislation extends beyond regulating assisted living communities into the memory care setting.

Specifically, if the House version of the bill were to pass, after January 1, 2020, no provider would be able to offer, advertise, or use the term “dementia care unit” or “memory care unit” without having first secured a dementia care unit certification. And, if 30% or more of the residents in any specific unit in the residential setting are diagnosed with dementia, the provider is required secure the dementia care unit certification before serving the residents.

The proposed legislation would also ramp up state inspections and investigations of residential care facilities, as well as implement tougher civil and criminal penalties against employees who abuse or threaten individuals in their care.

Between June 2016 and June 2017, four states—Oregon, California, Rhode Island and Virginia—all passed laws to related to increasing civil monetary penalties and bolstering assisted living oversight requirements, according to the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL).

More than half of all U.S. states are anticipated to propose, formally review or consider changes that would affect assisted living communities in 2018, according to the association.

Written by Mary Kate Nelson