Lax Regulation Lets California Senior Facilities off the Hook with $1 Million in Unpaid Fines

Sunday, November 24, 2013
(AP Photo)

Home to more assisted living facilities than any other state in the U.S., California has allowed dozens of operators to avoid paying fines for not properly caring for its senior residents.

 

A ProPublica investigation discovered that the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) levied more than $2 million in fines on assisted living facilities from 2007 to 2012—but collected less than half that amount.

 

Furthermore, state regulators allowed facilities “hit with the most serious sanctions” to avoid paying any fines whatsoever, A.C. Thompson reported.

 

Thirty-nine out of the 50 largest fines assessed over the five-year period reviewed were never collected. This included a Shasta County facility that operated without a license and was fined $250,000, but never paid a dime.

 

Another facility, operating in Southern California, was fined $19,200. But the owners paid only $1,600.

 

“The fact that the fines were not paid is a concern,” state Senator Leland Yee, a Democrat who represents San Francisco and San Mateo County, told ProPublica. “The reason we have fines is to deter individuals from breaking the rules and breaking the laws.”

 

Last month the owners Valley Manor Residential Care of Castro Valley abruptly walked away from its facility, leaving its 19 frail residents unattended. A janitor and a cook, neither of whom had training and were no longer being paid, did what they could to care for the abandoned seniors. CDSS failed to take action in response to that incident.

 

California has 7,700 assisted living facilities, but officials can’t say for sure how much regulation they’re subjected to.

 

“For example, they could not say how many inspections the department conducts each year, or how many ‘unusual incidents’ – injuries, abuse allegations, medication errors – the facilities report to the state,” Thompson found.

-Noel Brinkerhoff

 

To Learn More:

In California, $1 Million in Unpaid Fines for Assisted Living Center (by A.C. Thompson, ProPublica)

Thousands of U.S. Nursing Home Residents Have Savings Stolen by Trusted Care Facilities (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Reports on Nursing Home Fraud and Neglect Get Little Notice (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

92% of Nursing Homes Employ Ex-Convicts (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

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