VAINIERI HUTTLE, RILEY BILL REQUIRING ASSISTED LIVING FACILITIES TO ESCROW FUNDS IN EVENT OF CLOSURE ADVANCES

Measure Stems from 2009 Incident in which Residents of Assisted Living Concepts-Run Homes were Evicted for Moving from Private Funds to Medicaid

(TRENTON) — Legislation Assemblywomen Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Celeste M. Riley sponsored that would require assisted living facilities that are closing, despite having contractually agreed to serve Medicaid-eligible residents, to set up escrow funds to pay for these individuals’ care in alternate assisted living facilities was released by the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee.

“We will not allow families who have poured tens- or hundreds-of-thousands of dollars into these assisted living facilities to suddenly find their loved ones homeless because it’s slightly more profitable for the facilities to close than to accept Medicaid payments,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “Plain and simple, this bill would prevent that from happening.”

The Vainieri Huttle/Riley bill stems from a 2009 report by the state Office of the Public Advocate, which documented a series of incidents involving assisted living facilities run by Wisconsin-based Assisted Living Concepts evicting patients who had exhausted their personal finances and were eligible for Medicaid, in favor of new private-pay patients, simply because Medicaid reimbursed less. Many of these facilities were located in South Jersey.

The Vainieri Huttle/Riley measure (A-3405) would require any assisted living residence that promised to not discharge residents who become Medicaid-eligible — in writing through a contract, resident agreement, condition of licensure or other legal instrument — but subsequently chooses to surrender its license and close to set aside sufficient funds, in escrow, to pay for care of displaced residents at an alternate assisted living residence for as long as is necessary.

“What certain assisted living facilities are doing amounts to nothing more than a classic bait and switch,” said Riley (D-Cumberland). “If they think that they’ll somehow be able to get away with it because their targets are senior citizens, they’re sadly mistaken.”

The measure now heads to the Assembly Speaker, who decides if and when to post it for a floor vote.