N.J. To Consider Enhancing Protections For Medicaid Residents In Assisted Living
The Associated Press/Philadelphia Inquirer reports that "lawmakers this week will consider measures to enhance protections for assisted living residents in New Jersey to ensure they aren't discharged simply because they pay with Medicaid." The legislation comes in response to an investigation that found a Wisconsin-based assisted living firm called Assisted Living Concepts, which has eight facilities in New Jersey and more than 200 nationwide, "wrongly showed New Jersey residents the door once they exhausted their savings and were about to go on Medicaid, despite promises to allow them to stay."
Four Democratic Assembly members sponsored a package of bills to increase protections for seniors in such facilities that will be heard on Thursday. The measures "would urge the state health and senior services commissioner to make Medicaid-eligible residents more financially and administratively attractive to assisted living facilities; make information about assisted living facility services and options more accessible to consumers; and request the health commissioner and consumer affairs division director recommend how to use the state's consumer fraud law to more effectively protect assisted living residents." The AP/Philadelphia Inquirer also noted that "last week, Gov. Jon S. Corzine signed a bill requiring nursing homes and assisted living residences to provide an informational sheet concerning Medicaid eligibility to certain residents" (DeFalco, 5/31).
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported last week that "When Assisted Living Concepts told a resident last year that she would be discharged Jan. 28, the (New Jersey) Department of Health and Senior Services fined the company $1,000 a day, beginning Nov. 10, for violating the terms of a commitment made in 1996. The company subsequently let the resident remain at the center." The Journal Sentinel also said "Laurie Bebo, chief executive of Assisted Living Concepts, did not return calls seeking comment. But in a teleconference with investors this month, she said, 'Obviously, we were pretty disappointed with the public advocate's report, but not surprised that it was completely unbalanced'" (Boulton, 5/28).