Assembly Bills Target Emergency Preparedness, Rent Increases at Assisted-Living Facilities

In a California Healthline Special Report, Assembly member Lois Wolk (D-Vacaville), Assembly Majority Leader Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) and Andrew Potter, a spokesperson for the Campaign to Improve Assisted Living, discussed legislation aimed at improving safety and controlling rent increases at the state’s assisted-living facilities.

A bill by Wolk would require facilities to implement preparedness measures for emergencies such as earthquake, floods and power outages. According to Wolk, although the Department of Public Health has jurisdiction over assisted living, the industry lacks substantive regulation.

Bass’ bill would require facilities to list their rent increases from the past three years and provide at least 60 days’ notice before raising rents. Rents in some California assisted-living communities have increased 8% to 14% annually, compared with a national average of 4% to 5%.

“Many times these residents are not aware that these rate increases will be this high percentage until it happens,” Bass said.

Both Wolk and Bass are members of the Washington, D.C.-based Campaign to Improve Assisted Living, an initiative backed by the Service Employees International Union that is targeting for-profit assisted-living operator Atria Senior Living. Atria operates 28 assisted-living communities in California.

Atria officials in a statement said, “Because Atria provides more than just an apartment for seniors, the cost of doing business is influenced by the cost of food, utilities, insurance, taxes and labor, all of which have increased significantly in recent years” (Kennedy, California Healthline, 4/9).

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