Elder Care bill advances

Advocates are working hard to respond to legislation addressing elder abuse backed by senate Republicans that is moving through the committee process.  This legislation includes some of the provisions included in bipartisan legislation containing the recommendations from the independent work group on elder abuse convened by AARP; however, it lacks several of the elements from the bill that create the real and systemic changes needed and that allow seniors to actually enforce their rights in a meaningful way.

Missing from the proposal are important protections around licensure, deceptive marketing, and discharge and termination of services in assisted living facilities, including the right to appeal those determinations.  Also absent is the ability to bring a private right of action for violations of the Health Care Bill of Rights and the Home Care Bill of Rights, the part of the legislation that gives seniors and their families the authority to seek damages in court.

Assisted living facilities are not currently  licensed in Minnesota.  This bill would convene a task force to discuss the possibility of licensure and provide recommendations to the Legislature for next year.  But seniors can’t wait for another year of discussion.  As Minnesota is the only state that does not require licensure, it shouldn’t be a matter of if licensure is needed, it should be a matter of how it happens and how quickly it can be implemented.

All of these consumer protections already exist within the bipartisan work group bill, but this bill has not been scheduled for a hearing.  The full recommendations of the independent work group deserve to be heard.  The bill backed by senate Republicans makes some important progress, but now is not the time to settle when the health and safety of our seniors requires bold, systemic changes. (SF 3437)