Elder care bill addresses in-room cameras, corrective action

A new package of elder care proposals introduced Thursday at the Capitol attempts to clear up how complaints are handled and punishment is assessed.

The wide-ranging plan, one of several now under consideration, marks the Senate Republican response to systematic lapses at care facilities and by regulators who oversee them.

Like some other proposals, the GOP bill would revise the complaint process to avoid another buildup of alleged mistreatment cases that took a long time to assess and ultimately address. It would allow the Department of Health to impose correction orders and fines at facilities simultaneously.

And the plan would provide patients and their relatives greater ability to install cameras in rooms at assisted-living facilities. Eventually, care centers would be subject to public report cards.

Senate Aging and Long-Term Care Committee Chair Karin Housley, R-St. Mary's Point, said it's all about peace of mind.

"When you are looking for a place for your loved one, making sure that when you go and look it up online that you can see how it compares to other assisted living or other nursing homes," said Housley, who is also a candidate for U.S. Senate this year. "What is its report card grade, and make it easy to find."

Some of the initiatives, however, rely on getting feedback from new task forces.

Earlier this week, DFL Gov. Mark Dayton highlighted his administration's proposal for elder care and vulnerable adult protection. He was joined by lawmakers of both parties, suggesting that there is momentum from all sides to make changes this session.

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