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Increasing fines for facilities among bills about long-term care currently in Arizona Legislature

Coverage of aging is supported in part by AARP Arizona

Long-term care advocates and families are hoping that some bills moving through the Arizona Legislature will eventually become law. 

Earlier this week, a bill that would allow residents to have electronic monitoring devices in their room passed the House Health committee. 

Representative Quang Nguyen introduced the measure.

"And one of the reasons why I want to run this bill is, because you and I spoke earlier, I'm going to need a bed one day," he explained to his colleagues. "And I want to make sure I'm protected."

Lawmakers consider increasing fines at long-term care facilities

One area of concern for some aging advocates and families are the fines the Arizona Department of Health levies for a violation.

Jennifer Awinda works in long-term care and testified before the committee last week. She said $1,000 is nothing.

"The community fee is $5,000 just to move in — $5,000, just to move in. So, $1,000 fine is it's not going to do anything. It's not going to make, I mean, it's going to make a little bit of an impact. But it should be higher than that," she said.

Tom Salow with DHS also testified before lawmakers about the currents fines: "$500 is not much of a deterrent in this industry. We aren't trying to be punitive. But in order to get better compliance, having a higher limit is an important deterrence tool. And linking that the number of people impacted by a deficient practice should lead to better compliance."

Salow said the bill would also allow DHS to assess a fee for excess time spent monitoring an unsafe facility.

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Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.