January 17, 2024

US Senate launches investigation of assisted living after lay media reports about safety, staffing, pricing

McKnights Senior Living

The US Senate Special Committee on Aging is launching a review of the assisted living industry following recent articles in the Washington Post, which reported on the deaths of residents who wandered from communities, as well as the New York Times and KFF, which scrutinized an industry pricing structure that adds fees on top of basic charges to cover additional services, as well as rate increases and the for-profit status of most providers.

Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), who has scheduled a hearing for Jan. 25, sent letters dated Monday to the leaders of Brookdale Senior Living, Atria Senior Living and Sunrise Senior Living, asking them to address his “significant concerns” about costs, staffing levels and resident safety.

“Despite these high costs, residents in assisted living facilities have been put in harm’s way, leading to avoidable injuries and death,” Casey wrote in his letter to the large providers, detailing points made in the November Times/KFF articles and December Post articles. 

Assisted living communities primarily are regulated at the state level, but the committee frequently has used its authority to “examine private companies when concerns arise about potential health and safety, as well as financial risks posted to older adults,” the senator said.

“The Senate Special Committee on Aging has jurisdiction over the problems older adults face, including matters of maintaining older adults’ health, their ability to secure proper housing, and their ability to obtain care or assistance when needed,” Casey wrote. “As chairman, I have an interest in ensuring that older adults and people with disabilities are receiving high quality care, have access to proper housing and receive good value for their hard-earned dollars.”

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