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An Assembly panel has approved legislation sponsored by Assemblywomen Annette Quijano and Valerie Vainieri Huttle that would protect some of the state’s most vulnerable residents from having their rights abused by assisted living facilities and personal care homes.

The measure (A-3732) would strengthen protections for these patients by codifying into law the more than 40 rights designed to protect a patient’s safety, well-being and privacy; and requiring each facility to provide patients with a copy of these rights.

“Assisted living facilities care for some of our most vulnerable residents, many of whom are in the twilight of their life,” said Quijano (D-Union). “It’s morally incumbent upon us to ensure that they are taken care of with a measure of dignity and respect. Hopefully this measure will help people sleep easier at night, knowing their loved one is being cared for in a dignified manner.”

The legislation was born out of a 2009 report by the state Public Advocate, which found that Assisted Living Concepts was violating its Certificate of Need (the license obtained by the state) by attempting to kick out patients when they ran out of money and became Medicaid-eligible.

“When you have a loved one, particularly a mother or father, who is being cared for by a licensed facility, you hope and pray that they are in the best of hands,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “But this shouldn’t be left to chance. We need to put the weight of law behind it to make sure they are receiving the best treatment in a fair manner.”

The bill would require assisted living facilities and comprehensive personal care homes to distribute the statement of resident rights to each resident, and post it in a conspicuous, public place in the facility or home.

In addition, the bill requires providers to inform each resident, the resident’s family member, and the resident’s legally appointed guardian, if applicable, of the resident’s rights, provide explanations if needed, and ensure that each resident, or the resident’s legally appointed guardian, as applicable, signs a copy of the statement of rights.

The measure also builds upon a law (A-3405) passed in January, and sponsored by Vainieri Huttle, that ensures that Medicaid-eligible residents of a state-licensed assisted living residence or comprehensive personal care home, which has promised not to discharge residents who become Medicaid-eligible, are able to reside in another such facility if the former facility opts to surrender its license after making that promise.

The bill, which was reported out of the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee, would take effect on the 30th day after enactment.