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ALF Reform Passes Second Senate Committee

The Senate Committee on Health Policy, chaired by Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, passed a committee substitute for SB 248 Wednesday, Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs), sponsored by the Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs. Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, chaired the committee.

This bill is the product of years of study, discussion and input from constituents, health care experts, policymakers, advocates and other stakeholders across Florida. We also incorporated recommendations from the two reports compiled by the Agency for Health Care Administrations ALF Workgroup, said Sobel. The atrocities we read about in the Miami Herald are primarily preventable. This legislation makes great strides toward improving oversight and strengthening the enforcement of current regulations for state-licensed ALFs.

According to a written statement from the Senate office, PCS/SB 248 improves accountability in ALFs by clarifying who is responsible for assuring residents receive services and requiring a larger cross-section of caregivers to report abuse or neglect to the Department of Children and Families Central Abuse Hotline. The legislation creates additional and stricter penalties for ALFs by amending fine amounts and clarifying the criteria under which the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) must revoke or deny a facilitys license or impose an immediate moratorium.

Further, the statement says PCS/SB 248 improves transparency by requiring additional inspections for facilities with prior violations and requiring the AHCA to implement an ALF rating system by March 1, 2015. The legislation also requires AHCA to add certain content to its website by Nov. 1, 2014, to help consumers select an ALF that best meets their needs or the needs of a family member or friend who requires assisted living care.

Floridians requiring an assisted living facility are among the most vulnerable in our society and we need to make sure facilities licensed by the state are both transparent and accountable, said Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville.

I commend Senator Sobel and others who have worked tirelessly on this legislation. We should strive to keep Floridians in their homes as long as possible, but certain situations arise where the best care can be provided by an assisted living facility. When the time comes to make this difficult choice for yourself or a family member, you should have confidence Floridas assisted living facilities are a safe and caring place to call home, Gaetz said.

PCS/SB 248 will now be available for consideration by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, chaired by Sen, Tom Lee, R-Brandon.

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