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Scott defends against federal criticism of his agency 'meddling' in elder protection

Gov. Rick Scott defended his office's handling of a statewide volunteer advocacy program for nursing home and assisted living residents despite a scathing report that critcized the administration and accused it of meddling. "I feel like we did the right thing,'' Scott said. "Elder affairs does their best to do a good job. They surround themselves with good people...but you would like everybody to say you do everything right."

The U.S. Administration on Aging, which investigated the alleged political firing of an outspoken head of the state’s Long-term Care Ombudsman Program, released a 31-page report Thursday that the volunteer group has become so hamstrung by politics that volunteers can not effectively advocate for frail elderly and disabled people who cannot protect themselves. More on the story here.

Scott lalso said he will look into the fact that there are no consumer representatives on the task force he set up to come up with recommendations for how to help troubled assisted living facilities.

Amy Graham, the governor's deputy communications secretary, later provided this statemetn:

The Assisted Living Facility Task Force boasts two of the state’s most vocal advocates for ALF consumers - the task force’s chairman Larry Polivka and Sen. Rhonda Storms.  Serving as the chairman of the task force, the executive director of the Claude Pepper Center at Florida State University and the state's former assistant secretary for aging and adult services, Larry Polivka is a champion for those who rely on the services Assisted Living Facilities provide. And as you know, Senator Rhonda Storms is a strong supporter of increased oversight and penalties for assisted living facilities.

In addition, two other members who represent consumer interests are Ken Plante – serving on behalf of the Elder Law section of the Florida Bar and Jim Crochet - the state’s Long Term Care Ombudsman. At each of the meetings, several hours are set aside to take public comment from consumers, family members, advocates and any other members of the public who wish to provide input. There were many consumers and consumer advocates who spoke at the first meeting, and we anticipate even greater consumer participation at the September meeting in Tampa. The task force plans to set aside three hours to hear from the public at that meeting.

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