Minnesota’s top health regulator has unveiled a plan to intensify oversight of the state’s rapidly growing assisted-living industry, amid growing concerns that an absence of basic care standards is putting thousands of seniors in harm’s way. State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm has proposed a system for licensing assisted-living homes, which now serve more than 60,000 Minnesotans but operate under less supervision than state-licensed nursing homes. Minnesota is the only state that does not license such facilities, making it difficult for the state to enforce minimum standards of care for an increasingly vulnerable population.
“We need to build on that system and create higher levels of regulation, including licensure, tied to the complexity of the services that are offered in those settings and the complexity of need,” Malcolm said in her testimony.
The case for reform gained momentum early last year following a Star Tribune investigation detailing how such facilities had failed to protect their residents from hundreds of incidents of criminal abuse, including beatings, sexual assaults and thefts.