SAINT PAUL, Minn. – A package of strong reforms protecting seniors against abuse, neglect, assault, and other maltreatment in Minnesota assisted living facilities and nursing homes was passed by the Minnesota House Friday afternoon. The bill, HF 90, contains licensure of assisted living facilities, the ability for a resident to have a camera in their living space, a prohibition on deceptive marketing practices, and clarification of the rights of residents and their families.
“When they move to an assisted living facility, our parents and grandparents deserve the care they need to live with an excellent quality of life. They also deserve to live with dignity,” said Rep. Jen Schultz (DFL – Duluth), author of the bill and chair of the House Long-Term Care Division. “The protections in the legislation we passed today are long overdue and will improve the safety and security of our loved ones, and I’m thankful for both the consumer advocates and representatives of the industry who made these solutions possible.”
Many of the proposals in the legislation emerged last year from an Elder Abuse Consumer Workgroup convened by AARP Minnesota, and were crafted with the assistance of organizations such as Elder Voice Family Advocates and Legal Aid.
To protect the health and safety of residents, the bill takes the significant step of providing new licensing requirements for assisted living facilities, with additional requirements for those providing memory care. Minnesota is currently the only state in the nation without such requirements, meaning few protections exist to safeguard vulnerable adults, many of whom have Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Within the licensing framework, the bill will also help residents receive coordinated care from providers to enhance accountability and better ensure effective and safe care.
Another provision prohibits deceptive, misleading, and aggressive marketing practices, allowing consumers to have “Informed Choice” regarding the level of services a facility actually has the ability and capacity to deliver. The legislation strengthens and provides clarity for the rights of residents and their families, including new appeal rights when housing or services are terminated, the ability for a resident to have a camera in their apartment or private nursing home room, and new access requirements for residents enrolling in Medical Assistance, who are currently often forced out of a facility upon enrollment.
The bill also seeks to end retaliation against residents and their families by creating new guidelines clearly defining it, and providing vulnerable adults the ability to seek enforcement through a private right of action. Currently, there are no protections against retaliation in either nursing homes or assisted living facilities, rendering many resident rights unenforceable. Often, this occurs when residents and family members speak up regarding care received, safety concerns or suspected maltreatment.
Gaps in Minnesota’s elder care oversight received widespread attention following a 2017 Star Tribune multi-part story on rampant assault, abuse, neglect and other crimes in Minnesota’s senior care facilities and a lack of adequate response from state investigators to complaints about them.
The Senate’s version of the legislation is awaiting action from the Senate Finance Committee.