The assisted living industry is experiencing regulation changes across many states, due in part to changes to funding and federal policy, but also due to shortcomings in current outdated regulations. Some changes, such as those set to occur in Pennsylvania over the next few months, can mean a big overhaul for facilities.

Interestingly, the state of Pennsylvania actually has no official "assisted living" category of assisted senior living. As a result, facilities with a wide range of capabilities use the term in advertising, and facilities housing four or five residents are regulated in the same manner as facilities housing more than 100 residents. Currently, 1,600 facilities are regulated by the Department of Public Welfare to provide non-medical care and housing to resideassisted livingnts.

Three years ago, Pennsylvania approved legislation that would create an "assisted living" category, but it was never implemented due to objections to the proposed changes by industry and consumer groups, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. So the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) made some changes that were approved on June 3rd by the state's Independent Regulatory Review Commission, and expect to implement the new regs within the next six months.

 The DPW anticipates that about 150 facilities will apply for approval as an assisted living facility in the first few months after legislation takes effect, says spokeswoman Beth Myers -- most likely the largest of the facilities currently regulated by the department. A facility denied approval may not use the term "assisted living" in their marketing efforts.

One welcome change is the utilization of federal funds -- Medicare and Medicaid -- to help residents pay for assisted living care. Currently, Pennsylvania assisted living facilities are considered largely private pay and are therefore accessible only to more affluent residents.

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