Government watchdog finds safety gaps in assisted living homes

Government watchdog finds safety gaps in assisted living homes
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More than half of all states lack adequate federal reporting about assisted living facilities, meaning serious health and safety problems go unnoticed by federal authorities, according to a new bipartisan report from a government watchdog.

The Government Accountability Office report found that 26 states could not report the number of “critical incidents” — physical assaults, sexual abuse, unexplained death, unauthorized use of restraints, medication errors and inappropriate discharges or evictions — occurring in assisted living facilities in their state.

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In many cases, the report found that when states did identify a significant problem at a facility, that information was not made available to the public.

The report found over 20,000 critical incidents at assisted living facilities, but that number could be much higher because state definitions of what they choose to report vary.

States spent a combined $10 billion in federal and state funds on 330,000 people in assisted living facilities in 2014, the report found. While federal Medicaid money helps fund certain assisted living services, states are responsible for conducting oversight.

Assisted living facilities increasingly receive federal Medicaid dollars, but are not subject to the same federal rules as nursing homes.

States have to report annually to the federal government any deficiencies that impact the health and wellness of beneficiaries.

The report was released by a bipartisan group of senators: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchDon't place all your hopes — or fears — on a new Supreme Court justice The Hill's Morning Report — Trump’s walk-back fails to stem outrage on Putin meeting On The Money: Fed chief lays out risks of trade war | Senate floats new Russia sanctions amid Trump backlash | House passes bill to boost business investment MORE (R-Utah), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTrump pick to face grilling over family separations On The Money: Commerce to review uranium imports | Lawmakers urge Trump not to impose auto tariffs | White House wants steeper cuts to EPA funding | Google hit with massive B fine Election Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas MORE (D-Mass.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Health Care: Novartis pulls back on drug price hikes | House Dems launch Medicare for All caucus | Trump officials pushing ahead on Medicaid work requirements Senate panel to vote next week on banning 'gag clauses' in pharmacy contracts GOP senator: Trump's changing stances on Russian threat are 'dizzying' MORE (R-Maine) and Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump’s walk-back fails to stem outrage on Putin meeting Senate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Senate Dems lock in million in TV airtime MORE (D-Mo.).

“Given that each year the Medicaid program spends billions on assisted living facilities to ensure beneficiaries receive the high-quality care that they deserve, we must be vigilant that these programs are working as intended,” Hatch said in a statement.

“Americans choosing this option for their care, as well as their families and caregivers, should be confident that the safety, health and well-being of its beneficiaries is our top priority,” Hatch said.