Senate Republicans, led by Senate Aging and Long-Term Care Committee Chair Sen. Karin Housley (R-St. Mary’s Point), announced a proposal to prevent elder abuse in long-term care facilities and repair the broken state reporting system that failed thousands of families by leaving serious cases of abuse uninvestigated. The Elder Care and Vulnerable Adult Protection Act is the final product of hundreds of conversations with Minnesotans across the state who experienced abuse, family members of vulnerable adults, and care providers.
“There’s no sugarcoating it; the Dayton-Smith administration failed elderly and vulnerable Minnesotans and their families. We owe them answers, accountability, and action this session,” said Sen. Karin Housley (R-St. Mary’s Point). “This bill significantly overhauls the state agency responsible for letting abuse reports pile up without investigation. We are also demanding a new streamlined and transparent process of reporting complaints that keeps residents and their families informed through the entire investigative process. There are a lot of wonderful care providers in Minnesota; but there are some bad actors, too. It’s unfortunate that we can’t trust our own watchdog agency to protect our seniors like they deserve.”
The bill will include:
Strict abuse prevention measures
Electronic monitoring, also known as ‘granny cams,’ will be allowed in rooms to provide vulnerable adults and their family members peace of mind. Additionally, the Home Care Bill of Rights will be expanded to include individuals in assisted living facilities, and it will be easier for victims of abuse to seek justice against those who have physically assaulted them. Immediate fines may be imposed by the Minnesota Department of Health when violations occur.
Streamlined and transparent complaint processes
The Office of Health Facilities Complaints (OHFC) will be required to implement a new electronic case management system, triage incoming complaints according to severity, and transparently publish all substantiated claims on their website.
Fair and timely communication of investigation findings
The OHFC will be required to provide important information to the subject of the abuse and their family members, including the nature of the maltreatment allegation, the name of the facility, the name of the perpetrator, recommended protective measures, and an update on the progress of the investigation every three weeks.
Protections for consumers against misleading marketing practices
Prohibits deceptive marketing practices for nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and adds a civil penalty for providers that provided or arranged for health care or services that are substantially different or more expensive than marketed, promised or advertised.
Increased oversight and accountability of the Office of Health Facility Complaints
The OHFC, which was intended to be a watchdog agency and was instead responsible for amassing a backlog of nearly 25,000 abuse and neglect allegations, will be required to provide quarterly progress reports to the Legislature that include the number of reports filed, the number of reports investigated, and trends of reports.
Continued state action on elder care issues
The Legislature and state will be required to continue working on elder care issues through the creation of the Assisted Living Licensure and Dementia Care Certification Task Force, the Crimes Against Vulnerable Adults Task Force, and the Assisted Living Report Card Working Group.
“Senate Republicans rolled out an agenda earlier this year that focuses on caring for people at all stages of life. Our parents and grandparents need to feel safe and well cared for at their long-term care facility; it’s that simple,” said Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa). “This will be an ongoing focus for Senate Republicans. The reforms we’re planning this year are only the beginning of the conversation.”