Legislation before the Maryland General Assembly would impose reporting requirements on assisted living operators that manage benefits for their residents.

HB 554 / SB 507, sponsored by House Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk (D-District 21) and state Sens. Delores Kelley (D-Baltimore City), Brian Feldman (D-Montgomery County), Guy Guzzone (D-Howard County), Jill Carter (D-Baltimore City) and Pamela Beidle (D-Anne Arundel County), would require assisted living communities to file annual reports on the money they receive via resident benefits with the Division of Consumer Protection of the Office of the Attorney General.

Under the bill, assisted living programs that serve as representative payees for residents would be required to report Social Security benefits and other federal, state or logical government funds used to assist individuals who are aged, disabled or blind.

LeadingAge Maryland President and CEO Allison Ciborowski told McKnight’s Senior Living that its members typically are not resident payees, and current state assisted living regulations already require protections of resident funds, which can be surveyed by the Office of Healthcare Quality.

The bill also would require the Office of Health Care Quality within the Maryland Department of Health to refer allegations of “unfair, abusive or deceptive trade practices” by an assisted living program to the Division of Consumer Protection.

Those practices include any false, falsely disparaging or misleading statements that could mislead consumers. Deceptive sale or rental services also are included. Violations are subject to a $10,000 fine per violation and up to $25,000 for each repetitive violation. Individuals who violate the Maryland Consumer Protection Act can be fined up to $1,000 and / or jailed for up to one year.

Tammy Bresnahan, associate director of advocacy for AARP Maryland, testified last week before the state Health and Government Operations Committee in support of the assisted living reporting requirements “to protect Maryland’s most vulnerable.” 

She said representative payees, who manage benefit payments for someone unable to do so on their own, handle benefits for almost three million recipients of Supplemental Security Income for low-income older adults, the blind and disabled. Payees who do not live with the beneficiary are required to submit annual reports to Social Security accounting for how benefits are used. Assisted living programs should fall under these reporting requirements, she said.

“AARP believes that government and long-term services and support providers can implement various approaches to promoting service quality and protect the rights of consumers,” Bresnahan testified.