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Florida’s Proposed Assisted Living Bill – Heavy on Fines, Still Light on Oversight

Florida-MapThe requirements for certification surveys in assisted living facilities have always been far more lax than in nursing facilities where medical care is provided, and surveys occur like clockwork every 12-15 months. While pretty much all stateshave been taking their lumps in the news over the past few years for assisted living facility issues, Florida has especially been in the spotlight. Lawmakers in Florida have been trying to pass legislation to provide more structure to ALF regulatory oversight and currently have a bill on the table that should have ALF operators checking to make sure their facilities are in order.

Senate Bill 248 sets out proposed guidelines for ALF surveys and associated penalties, which includes a requirement for ALFS to be surveyed every 24 months, which is double the time period for nursing homes. However, the penalties are where it starts to veer into interesting territory. First of all, the financial penalties would be broken out into two groups – one fee for facilities with 100 beds or less, and a higher fee for those with more than 100 beds. Violations, according to Florida Public Health’s regulatory Chapter 408, are broken into classes that have associated fees:

Class I Violations Includes conditions or occurrences that the agency determines “present an imminent danger to the clients of the provider or the substantial probability that death or serious physical or emotional harm would result therefrom”The condition or occurrence that constitutes a “Class I” violation must be abated/eliminated within 24 hours
Class II Violations Includes conditions or occurrences that the agency determines “directly threaten the physical or emotional health, safety or security of the clients” that are not Class I violations
Class III Violations Includes conditions or occurrences that the agency determines “indirectly or potentially threaten the physical or emotional health, safety or security of clients” that are not Class I or Class II violationsThese citations must have a length of time specified regarding when the violation must be corrected by. If the correction is made within the allowed time period, a fine may not necessarily be given
Class IV Violations Includes conditions or occurrences “related to the operation and maintenance of a provider or to required reports, forms or documents that do not have the potential of negatively affecting clients”These citations must have a length of time specified regarding when the violation must be corrected by. If the correction is made within the allowed time period, a fine may not necessarily be given
Misc. Non-Classed Violations Administrative fines may be imposed for circumstances such as violating the terms of a licenses, exceeding licensed capacity or providing services beyond the scope of the license

 

Opponents to the bill say that the fine structure is unfair and could put many ALFs out of business. It remains to be seen how ALFs would fare in a more rigid regulatory environment, but either way, this proposal hopefully spurs owners to make sure they are providing quality services to their residents no matter what.

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