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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 HatchGOP leaders hesitant to challenge Trump on Saudi Arabia Congress should work with Trump and not 'cowboy' on Saudi Arabia, says GOP senator US to open trade talks with Japan, EU, UK MORE (R-Utah), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBig Dem donors stick to sidelines as 2020 approaches DNA is irrelevant — Elizabeth Warren is simply not Cherokee The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump seizes on immigrant 'caravan' for midterms | WHCA criticizes Trump for praising lawmaker who assaulted reporter | Trump takes harder line on Saudis MORE (D-Mass.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsManchin wrestles with progressive backlash in West Virginia Conservatives bankrolled and dominated Kavanaugh confirmation media campaign The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns MORE (R-Maine) and Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Overnight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma —Senate debates highlight fight over pre-existing conditions | Support grows for Utah Medicaid expansion measure | Arkansas health official defends work requirements McCaskill campaign says ‘intern’ who filmed campaign had access to voter data 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.