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House moves on ALF reform

In light of a Miami Herald investigation that outlined rampant abuse and neglect at some of the state's 2,850 assisted living facilities, Gov. Rick Scott and other lawmakers made it a priority to push for reforms.

The Senate tackled the issue early in the session, but advocates wondered why the House wasn't pushing along HB 397, which now appears dead.

But last week, the House filed committee bill PCB HHSC 12-04, which passed unanimously out of Health and Human Services Committee Thursday.

The proposal includes several monetary penalties for poorly-run ALFs, including a $10,000 penalty when a violation results in a resident's death. It also creates a new advisory council to investigate ALF deaths and requires that instances of abuse be reported to a central hotline.

Some witnesses argued the proposal doesn't go far enough.

Orlando Attorney John Willis suggested inserting a requirement that ALFs carry a certain amount of liability.

"Most facilities are part a maze of multiple corporations...the real purpose of that is to shield corporate assets," he said. "While there might be a valid claim, it's near impossible to collect."

Others expressed concern the new ALF advisory boards would only have one resident representative while government workers and ALF representatives would make up the rest.

For more on ALF reform in the Legislature, click here.