Our View of the Legislature: ALFs

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The mission of the disAbility Law Center of Virginia is to advance independence, choice, and self-determination; protect legal, human, and civil rights; and eliminate abuse, neglect, and discrimination of people with disabilities through zealous and uncompromising legal advocacy and representation. We do this through training and outreach, individual casework, and systems reform work, including educating policymakers about the impact of their decisions.

We are tracking the decisions legislators make concerning assisted living facilities and the people with disabilities who must live there. There are 570 Assisted Living Facilities in Virginia, ranging in size from hundreds of residents to a dozen or fewer residents. Likewise, the quality of living conditions can vary dramatically from one ALF to the next. dLCV is especially interested in ALFs that accept auxiliary grants, as those institutions often house people with complex and hidden disabilities. (Auxiliary Grants are funds administered by the state to supplement social security payments in some limited living situations. Historically, Virginia allowed supplemental grants only in large institutional settings — Assisted Living Facilities. In recent years, the Commonwealth expanded the program to allow for supplemental payments in permanent supportive housing, a more integrated living arrangement.)

  • SB 1221 (Obenshain) will require assisted living facilities to have liability insurance. Senator Obenshain is motivated to promote his bill after learning that liability insurance is not mandatory, a fact he learned after representing a family who had experienced outrageous abuse from an ALF in his district. As amended, SB 1221 would direct the Board of Social Services to establish minimum coverage for ALFs, depending upon their size. The bill was approved by the Senate and by the House Committee on Health, Welfare, and Institutions. It now moves to the full House for consideration
  • SB 1508 (Mason) and HB 1900 (Hope) extend the length of a provisional license for an ALF from six months to one year. Mason’s bill was approved by the Senate and by the House Committee on Health, Welfare, and Institutions. It now goes to the full House for approval. Hope’s bill was approved by the House and by the Senate Committee on Education and Health and now goes to the full Senate for consideration. The bills are identical; we expect both of them to pass.
  • SB 1407 (Vogel) would have dramatically lowered staff training and qualification standards for ALFs with 25 or fewer residents. The bill was defeated in the Senate Committee on Rules.
  • SB 1458 (Ebbin) requires the state Department of Labor to study the use of staffing agencies by Assisted Living Facilities. The bill was approved by the Senate but was tabled in the House Committee on Health, Welfare, and Institutions.

Related to Assisted Living Facilities, the legislature had two identical bills to expand the auxiliary grant program further so that the grants could be used in more integrated environments than institutional ALFs. Both bills have been tabled by the House Committee on Appropriations.

  • HB 1906 (Hope) and SB 1269 (Edwards) would have allowed the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services to provide auxiliary grants to people residing in independent community living. Under the bills, “independent community living” means a housing setting in which individual lives and receives necessary community-based services to assist with activities of daily living, including activities of daily living, in the least restrictive and most integrated setting practicable. Both bills had a re-enactment clause, stating that they will not become effective unless the next legislature passes the bill again. The bills asked the Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services to develop a plan to implement the new service and to ascertain whether it is permissible within Social Security rules. Unless the bills are revived in budget language, both are dead.

The disAbility Law Center of Virginia is available to educate policymakers about the potential impact of legislative proposals. Please let us know of any issues that you think we should be following. Contact us at ga@dlcv.org or info@dlcv.org or by calling 1-800-552-3962 or 804-225-2042.