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Elder Care & Vulnerable Adult Protection Act of 2019 passes legislature
By Patti Cullen, CAE & Toby Pearson | May 24, 2019 | All members
On Sunday, May 19, 2019, the Minnesota Senate and House passed important legislation that includes a series of protections for elderly and vulnerable Minnesotans and an extensive framework for the licensure of assisted living facilities. The Elder Care & Vulnerable Adult Protection Act of 2019 (HF90) is a significant reform to state law for elder care, especially for assisted living services. The bill passed with wide, bipartisan support—a vote of 66–1 in the Senate and a vote of 125–6 in the House. On Wednesday, May 22, 2019, the bill was signed into law by Governor Tim Walz.
The legislation, HF90, includes a comprehensive package of consumer protections designed to ensure the rights of elderly and vulnerable adults, including protections for residents against retaliation in nursing facilities or assisted living facilities and a clear process for residents to appeal a termination of the assisted living housing or services. The bill also enhances oversight of the state Office of Health Facility Complaints and provides needed funding for the Office of the Ombudsman of Long-Term Care. In addition, the bill contains provisions giving nursing facility and assisted living residents the explicit right to use electronic monitoring devices in their rooms.
In addition, the bill includes an extensive framework for licensing assisted living facilities in Minnesota. Once the licensure system is in place, the current housing with services system will be eliminated. There are two levels of licensure, one for assisted living facilities and another for facilities with dementia care services, which are subject to additional training requirements. A Resident Quality of Care and Outcomes Improvement Task Force is created to make recommendations on how to apply safety and quality improvement practices to long-term care services.
The rights of assisted living facility residents are protected by a new consumer bill of rights and qualifications for assisted living directors and nursing facility administrators are outlined in the bill. In addition, assisted living facilities will be subject to the oversight and regulatory authority of the state health department, which will have the ability to issue correction orders and fines to ensure facility standards are being upheld. Licensure requirements go into effect by August 1, 2021; other provisions of the law such as electronic monitoring have earlier effective dates.
The bill was the product of hundreds of hours of discussions over the past few years with major stakeholders and advocacy groups, including state regulators from the Departments of Health and Human Services, Care Providers of Minnesota, AARP Minnesota, LeadingAge Minnesota, Minnesota Elder Justice Center, LTC Ombudsman, Elder Voices Family Advocates, and Alzheimer’s Association. The bill was able to be separately heard and passed by both bodies when the governor, Senate majority leader, and speaker of the House agreed to fund it with a separate target of $31 million in their final budget negotiations. With this strong bi-partisan vote, and leadership support, the bill was then sent to the governor, who then signed it into law on Wednesday, May 22.
Below is the text of the letter signed by Care Providers of Minnesota as well as the other stakeholders involved in the negotiations facilitated by Department of Health leadership: Commissioner Jan Malcolm and Assistant Commissioner Marie Dotseth. The letter was important during the final floor discussions on May 19 to ensure there were no additional amendments adopted that were not agreed upon by all stakeholders:
Dear Governor Walz, Lt. Governor Flanagan, Senator Gazelka, and Representative Hortman:
Patti Cullen, CAE
We, the undersigned, respectfully request that you pass comprehensive legislation in the 2019 Session to protect vulnerable adults and establish a licensure system for assisted living facilities. The consensus bill language that we have prepared with the Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Department of Human Services represents our best efforts and combined knowledge of how to address this issue from a technical, policy and budgetary perspective.
None of us think it is perfect.
All of us think it is necessary and urgent.
We understand that this carefully crafted and hard worked compromise is contingent on sufficient funding for agency operations and this reform. Failing to pass consensus bill language and accompanying funding for the Department of Health, the Department of Human Services and the Office of Ombudsman for Long-Term Care would be catastrophic for thousands of vulnerable adults in Minnesota. This proposal and its associated funding should be considered and passed on its own merits. Our support for this does not negate policy or budget concerns that one or more of our organizations oppose within the HHS Omnibus budget.
Additionally, failing to act this Session would be a great disservice to the dozens of individuals who have worked on this for more than two years and have invested hundreds of hours of time in planning, negotiating and substantive working group discussions over the last twelve months.
While we recognize that minor, technical changes may be necessary, we respectfully request that no further substantive changes or amendments be added without agreement from the signatory organizations.
Thank you so much for your dedication to vulnerable adults and your willingness to make this consensus bill a top priority for your respective caucuses in the remaining days of the 2019 Session.
| President/CEO | firstname.lastname@example.org
| Vice President of Advocacy | email@example.com