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Legislative Alert:
Assisted Living Industry Organizes
to Stop Consumer Protections


In January of 2002, CANHR sponsored what was thought to be a very modest proposal:place a limit on the amount of pre-admission fees that can be charged by residential care facilities for the elderly and limit the number of times in a year that a resident's rates could increase.

SB 1898, authored by Senator Nell Soto (D-Pomona), was immediately opposed by all of the nursing home and assisted living organizations in California, including the non-profit industry. We knew we must be doing something right when so many industry lobbyists oppose basic consumer protections. The industry organizations sent misleading information to their members, telling them that SB 1898 would prevent them from increasing rates for level of care changes; prohibit outside vendors from increasing rates; and a variety of other onerous results should SB 1898 become law.

They were also able to convince their many friends in the legislature that the interests of 6,000+ RCFE providers (one of the major lobbyists represented Marriott hotels!) were more important than those of the 145,000 elder residents who live on fixed incomes in these facilities. As a result, SB 1898 was amended extensively. Nevertheless, the industry is still opposed and won't be happy until the bill is dead.

The Amended SB 1898

As amended, the two major protections that SB 1898 provides are a prohibition against non-recurring lump sum increases and a 60-day written notice prior to an increase in the basic rate. In addition, the bill would require licensees to provide a statement of charges for any pre-admission fee. Currently, California's 6,000+ RCFEs can increase rates at any amount at any time, with only a 30-day written notice. Clearly, this is insufficient notice for elders to find alternative living accommodations if they can't afford the rate increase.

Non-Recurring Lump Sum Increases

SB 1898 does not restrict facilities from increasing the rates for level of care changes in any way, nor does it restrict the amount of increase in any rate. (We'll have to wait for next session to tackle this issue!) It does not prevent increases in rates by outside vendors. What it does do is prohibit excessive one-time fees like those imposed by Emeritus Assisted Living on the residents of its 135 homes. In February of 2002, Emeritus executives sent a notice of a one-time $425 increase to all of its residents, including the five homes they own in Southern California. Blaming the increase on "Post September 11" cost increases, the notice demanded payment in 30 days. SB 1898 would prohibit such lump sum fees.

Support Needed

The intensive and extensive opposition from the RCFE industry needs to be countered by those who support consumer protections for RCFE residents. Once again due to the industry influence, the bill is likely to be double referred, i.e., heard in two policy committees: the Assembly Health Committee and the Assembly Aging Committee.

Letters of support should be sent asap to:

Assemblymember Dion Aroner, Chair
Assembly Human Services
State Capitol, Room 2163
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 319-2014
FAX: (916) 319-2114

Assemblymember Lynn Daucher, Chair
Assembly Aging & Long Term Care
1020 N St., Room 360 A
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 319-2072
FAX:   (916) 319-3884

Your support—written, fax or phone—is needed as soon as possible if we are to be able to provide protection for RCFE residents.

For a copy of the latest amended version (June 11, 2002) of SB 1898, see www.leginfo.ca.gov—click on bill information and search for SB 1898 or call the CANHR office.