Assisted Living Facilities and Related Regulations Under Scrutiny

In September 2011, the Florida Senate issued Interim Report 2012-128, titled “Review Regulatory Oversight of Assisted Living Facilities in Florida.” According to the report, there are 2,956 assisted living facilities (ALFs) that are licensed by Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration and subject to Department of Elder Affairs rules. The Department of Children and Families and the Department of Health also consult on the rules. http://www.flsenate.gov/PublishedContent/Session/2012/InterimReports/2012-128hr.pdf

Despite this regulation, the Miami Herald, published a three-part series in April 2011, discussing its year-long investigation into abuses allegedly occurring in ALFs, along with the state regulatory response. Neglected to Death, Parts 1-3, available at: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/04/30/2194842/once-pride-of-florida-now-scenes.html and http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/05/03/2199747/key-medical-logs-doctored-missing.html

In response, Governor Rick Scott formed a 14-member ALF task force to hear from interested parties and make recommendations for legislative action. The task force’s report is due in November 2011. Assisted Living Workgroup Members, available at: http://www.fdhc.state.fl.us/SCHS/ALWG2011/wgmembers.shtml

Until the Legislature is able to consider the work group’s recommendations, Senate staffers recommend that the Legislature designate a specific state agency as the lead agency to coordinate ALF-related complaints and problems. Senate staff members also recommend implementation of a rating system, similar to the one currently used for nursing homes, to help consumers make informed choices when selecting an ALF.

Department of Revenue to Hold Rule Development Workshop on the Taxability of Leasehold Improvements

The Department of Revenue held a rule development workshop on September 21, 2011, to consider amending its rules to address the taxability of leasehold improvements as rent in light of a ruling contrary to the Department’s historical position that amounts spent by a tenant for any leasehold improvement required under the lease are subject to sales tax as “rent” paid by the tenant. See Department of Revenue vs. Ruehl No. 925, LLC, Case No. 09-CA-1503 (Leon County). Given the substantial amounts often expended by tenants for leasehold improvements, this can be an issue of substantial impact on lessors and lessees in the state.