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.
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
FAX: (916) 319-2114
Assemblymember Lynn Daucher, Chair
Assembly Aging & Long Term Care
1020 N St., Room 360 A
Sacramento, CA 95814
FAX: (916) 319-3884
Your supportwritten, fax or phoneis 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,
on bill information and search for SB 1898 or call the CANHR office.