ASSISTED LIVING: Shortcomings Highlighted in GAO Report
Some assisted-living facilities are providing substandard care and misleading potential residents, according to a new GAO report slated for release today, in time to take center stage at a Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing. The survey of facilities in California, Oregon, Florida and Ohio found that only half included in their brochures for prospective residents information on how much "help they would receive in taking medications, or when they might face higher costs or discharge because of worsening health problems." More than 25% of the facilities surveyed were identified as having quality-of-care problems during 1996 and 1997, with most complaints involving inadequate patient care. The agency also found evidence of inaccurate marketing materials, pointing to one Florida facility that advertised its commitment to help seniors live out the rest of their lives, only to include in the contract that the residents can be discharged for needing more nursing care than the facility is equipped to provide.
The Big Picture
As the industry mushrooms, the Wall Street Journal reports, it has increasingly come under scrutiny from state agencies, with 32 state Legislatures expected to take up legislation this year aimed at regulating the industry. Industry representatives are wincing at the prospect of federal oversight, calling state regulations sufficient. "The assisted-living industry is in its adolescence and is still maturing and growing," said Robert Lohr, president of Peridot Enterprise Inc., arguing that the government should "nurture this growth, not stunt it" (McGinley, 4/26). GAO reports may be accessed at the agency's website, www.gao.gov.