In a roundtable discussion today, the U.S. Senate will consider taking a more active approach in the regulation of assisted living facilities, according to a report by Medical News Today. The primary issue is the common practice of some assisted living communities to deny admission to Medicaid-eligible residents--or even kick them out, despite the fact that the facility is a Medicaid-approved provider.
Currently, regulation of assisted living in this regard falls to individual states, and rules vary dramatically. Assisted living facilities differ from other Medicaid-certified providers under federal law in that, while they can accept Medicaid, they're not under any obligation to serve Medicaid-eligible constituents.
In some cases, an assisted living home may choose to de-certify and no longer accept Medicaid as payment. In this case, current residents may be evicted based on their payor source. Eric Carlson, National Senior Citizens Law Center Directing Attorney, recommended at the roundtable that states enact laws protecting current residents from being penalized if a facility opts out of the Medicaid program and to require facilities to accept residents regardless of their Medicaid status.
Carlson also suggests a federal law to protect residents in these instances, pointing to a tragic case of an 89-year-old Washington woman who grew depressed, stopped eating, and died within a month of receiving an eviction notice from her assisted living home. The woman was a Medicaid-eligible resident whose facility decided to stop accepting Medicaid as payment.
The roundtable discussion, "Assisted Living at the Dawn of America's 'Age Wave': What Have States Achieved and How is the Federal Role Evolving?" will take place this afternoon, and will address the possibility of a more active federal role in the oversight of assisted living facilities in light of this and other issues.
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