In May, Gov. Rick Scott declided to say whether any response was needed to a year-long Miami Herald investigation that showed, when it came to assisted living homes, the state "failed to monitor shoddy operators, investigate dangerous practices or shut down the worst offenders."
Scott said he didn't read the report. But after he was briefed on it, he phoned Liz Dudek, head of the state Agency for Health Care Administration, and "asked her how they were." "She's committed to making sure that they do a very good job."
Fast forward to today. Scott's office issued a press release saying the governor oversaw a "crack down" on neglect at assisted living facilities, which has resulted in administrative action against 46 facilities.
Asked to explain the discrepancy from Scott's initial answer, Scott spokesman Lane Wright sent this statement: "Since day one, Gov. Scott has been holding accountable anyone who receives taxpayer dollars. That includes Florida’s assisted living facilities that receive taxpayer dollars to fund the essential needs of their residents. Anytime information is brought to light about potential problems, Gov. Scott consults with his agency heads to ensure this accountability."
Here's the press release:
AHCA Takes Action against 46 ALFs during May, Launches New Consumer Assistance Tools
Tallahassee, Fla.— Citing Governor Rick Scott’s request to correct the abuse and neglect that’s been reported in Florida’s assisted living facilities (ALFs), the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) announced today it took administrative action against 46 ALFs during the month of May.
“I am committed to making sure the people who rely on these facilities are protected,” said Governor Scott. “In early May I called on the agencies that oversee our state’s assisted living facilities to take action against any abuses or neglect, and I am happy to see they’ve answered that call.”
Last month, AHCA issued an immediate moratorium on admissions for two assisted living facilities and one emergency suspension order. In addition, AHCA denied one application for license renewal to a facility with a history of deficiencies and assessed more than $125,000 in fines to 44 facilities for failure to comply with state standards.
“Under Governor Scott’s direction, we are working with our partners (APD, DCF and the Department of Elder Affairs) to monitor these facilities closer than ever,” said Liz Dudek, AHCA Secretary. “Assisted living facilities have a responsibility to provide a safe and secure environment for their residents. We will continue with vigorous enforcement to assure providers are held accountable to keep the residents in their facilities healthy and safe.”
While Florida is already a leader in consumer information and transparency about health care providers, the Agency has gone one step better, making it easier to spot facilities with problems.
Today, AHCA released enhancements to the Florida Health Finder tool (www.floridahealthfinder.gov) that improve access to enforcement and sanction information for all providers the agency regulates. Florida Health Finder now connects complaints and any legal actions against a facility to its profile so a summary of sanctions can be seen at a glance. Florida Health Finder now also includes direct access to detailed health care provider complaint and inspection reports, emergency regulatory actions, and expanded information about specialty licenses and ownership.
For more information, please visit AHCA.MyFlorida.com.