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Van Drew Praises Public Advocate’s Efforts To Protect Assisted Living Community Residents

South Jersey Residents Being Forced Out of Local Assisted Living Facilities

TRENTON – Senator Jeff Van Drew today praised efforts by Public Advocate Ronald Chen to protect Medicaid-eligible residents of Chapin House and the other seven assisted living facilities in New Jersey operated by Assisted Living Concepts, Inc. (ALC).

“Clearly there is evidence that ALC has acted improperly when it comes to discharging seniors living in their facilities who rely on Medicaid to pay the bills,” said Senator Van Drew, D-Cape May and Atlantic. “The Public Advocate is doing the right thing by going to bat for these individuals and making sure that the elderly are guaranteed the services they need to be safe and healthy during their golden years.”

Senator Van Drew said that he was made aware of the situation at Chapin House by the family of Cape May County resident Betty Merklinger, who had been told by ALC that she would be involuntarily discharged from Chapin House after spending more than $300,000 in her own money and becoming eligible for the assisted living Medicaid waiver program. Mrs. Merklinger and her family had been promised by ALC that she would be able to stay in Chapin House after becoming Medicaid-eligible.

“ALC’s actions are reprehensible and deny Mrs. Merklinger and other elderly residents in their care the dignity and compassion they deserve,” added Senator Van Drew, D-Cape May and Atlantic. “It’s another case of companies putting profits before people and in doing so, threatens the very well-being of elderly New Jerseyans who need the strongest protections.”

According to Mrs. Merklinger’s family, ALC stayed committed to discharging her even after her doctor said that moving her would put her life at risk. Additionally, investor recruitment documents on ALC’s website prominently advertises the companies ability to reduce the number of Medicaid residents in order to increase profits and specifically points to the company’s efforts in Texas last year to discharge Medicaid-eligible residents.

Today, the Public Advocate’s office announced that they were seeking a Superior Court ruling to force ALC to comply with a January subpoena seeking information on all residents in ALC’s eight facilities who are or have been a Medicaid waiver beneficiary. The subpoena also seeks the names and addresses of all residents who have been discharged from the facilities in the past year.

Senator Van Drew noted that the Certificates of Need and Licenses issued to all eight of ALC’s New Jersey facilities by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS) said that up to 30% of the residents would be Medicaid eligible and that no resident would be discharged because of a “spend-down” of their private assets. Senator Van Drew also noted that changes in ALC’s corporate policies and practices have caused the company to be in violation of this agreement with the State.

“ALC tried to pull a fast one on their residents, hoping that no one was looking. They got caught and we are going to make sure that they live up to every single word of the agreement they made to get licensed in New Jersey,” explained Senator Van Drew.

He added, “No family in New Jersey should have to worry that a loved one will not get the care they need just because private funds have run out. These protections will stand.”

Senator Van Drew said he is working on legislation with the Public Advocate and DHSS that would prohibit assisted living facilities from discharging resident because the converted from private pay status to Medicaid eligibility and would require all assisted living facilities in New Jersey to establish a set aside for Medicaid eligible residents, including the direct admission of Medicaid eligible residents.