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Assisted Living: Will Washington Clamp Down?

Does Congress want the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) to regulate the assisted living industry? Not likely. HCFA has its hands full overseeing the nursing home industry. Does Congress want to appear to be concerned about this burgeoning industry? Based on recent events, the answer is an unequivocal "yes."

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), for example, called for a Health, Education, Labor And Pensions Committee hearing on "the state of care at these facilities." Clinton also serves on the full committee's Subcommittee on Aging. Clinton said that stories in The New York Times and The Washington Post "noted that older New Yorkers confront confusion and uneven care in the assisted living industry, which has grown rapidly with uneven [state] oversight."

However, the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) seemed more rattled by a congressional call for a White House conference on assisted living issued by Rep. Fortney Pete Stark (D-CA) and other House Democrats. Although Congress--specifically, the Senate Special Committee on Aging--probed the industry two years ago and found some quality-of-care and consumer protection problems, it had not urged federal regulation at the time. A White House conference, though, would likely develop recommendations calling for an increased federal role.

ALFA spokesperson Whitney Redding said in an interview, "We would prefer that the White House conference focus not just on quality of care," but on other issues, "like residents, living in an environment that they have some control over." Redding was asked if a federal presence is justified, given the increased use of Medicaid waivers that permit funding for home- and community-based care. Redding responded that assisted living should remain under state regulation "because that is what has helped us become different from the nursing home industry." Residents "turn to us because they balk at the nursing home environment; they are looking for more of a residential model."
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Article Details
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Author:SCHWARTZ, RONALD M.
Publication:Nursing Homes
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2001
Words:307
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