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.


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 HatchMellman: What happened after Ginsburg? Bottom line Bottom line MORE (R-Utah), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenInequality of student loan debt underscores possible Biden policy shift Thomas Piketty says pandemic is opportunity to address income inequality The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation MORE (D-Mass.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCongress set for chaotic year-end sprint Biden's Cabinet a battleground for future GOP White House hopefuls Two more parting shots from Trump aimed squarely at disabled workers MORE (R-Maine) and Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillDemocrats must turn around Utah police arrest man driving 130 mph claiming he was going to kill former Missouri senator McCaskill congratulates Hawley on birth of daughter 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.