Bill would provide regulation following expansion of “pop-up” social adult day programs
New York, NY – Today, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Health Committee Chair Maria del Carmen Arroyo and Aging Committee Chair Jessica Lappin announced legislation to regulate social adult day care centers, requiring them to provide proper supervision, monitoring, care and nutrition. Within the past year, nearly 200 “pop-up” social adult day care programs have opened in the city, some of which have been actively luring healthy clients from traditional senior centers and referring them to managed care plans. Through this scheme, the operators of these centers are able to collect Medicaid reimbursements for each participant enrolled by recruiting seniors that do not require the level of care that social adult day care programs are designed to offer. These practices threaten the health and safety of functionally impaired seniors and hinder the operations of properly run programs which depend on certain levels of attendance for funding. The Speaker and Council Members were joined by State Senator Diane Savino, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Executive Director Warren B. Scharf and advocates for the announcement at the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House.
“It is outrageous that these so-called ‘pop-up’ centers are threating the wellbeing of our seniors while draining Medicaid resources from legitimate programs for older adults,” said Speaker Quinn. “Increased oversight and regulation of these programs is needed immediately. We won’t allow the operators of these programs to take advantage our city’s most vulnerable residents.”
Social adult day care programs provide functionally challenged individuals – including those suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia or other chronic health conditions – with specialized services for older adults in a protective setting during part of the day. New York State does not require a license, certification or registration to operate these centers, although programs that receive State or local funding – including eight programs funded by the Council – adhere to regulations issued by the New York State Office of the Aging. Private programs operate without any oversight.
To rectify this issue, the Council’s legislation will impose the same standards applied to government-funded programs to all social adult day centers in the city, ensuring that only functionally impaired adults attend these programs and that these participants receive appropriate services in a safe environment. All social adult day care centers operating in the city will be required to register with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), which will have oversight of the programs. The Department for the Aging will function as an ombudsman, taking in complaints and working with DOHMH and the State as necessary. Programs that violate standards or fail to register will face fines ranging from $250 to $1,000 per day.
“I am proud to sponsor this legislation that will protect older adults from social adult day care center operators who engage in deceptive practices,” said Council Member Maria del Carmen Arroyo. “Our seniors deserve the highest quality services, and we must ensure that nothing interferes with the City’s ability to offer that to them. I thank Speaker Quinn, Aging Committee Chair Lappin and advocates for their work on this bill and for their commitment to protecting all elderly New Yorkers.”
“Social adult daycare centers can and should play an important role in our health system. This legislation will help ensure that New York’s most vulnerable seniors get the services and care they deserve,” said Council Member Jessica Lappin.
“In the past year, I have watched with great concern as numerous private social adult day care centers have sprung up throughout my district of Lower Manhattan. My office has visited a number of these programs, and not all of them seem to meet the state’s standards of a good quality adult day care center,” said Council Member Margaret Chin. “Unfortunately, it is all too easy for unscrupulous social adult daycare programs to take advantage of the elderly with misleading promises and subpar care, at great cost to taxpayers and potential harm to seniors. This legislation helps ensure that seniors are able to access appropriate care, so that they can thrive in an environment of compassion and community and age in place with independence and dignity.”
“Some of these unscrupulous senior day care centers target a group that’s already vulnerable to begin with. Every taxpayer dollar that goes into these centers is another dollar not spent to legitimately service a functionally impaired senior. Budget cuts to senior services are dire enough as is without having sham businesses not properly serving seniors. The legislation before us today sends a clear message to these deceitful centers: enough is enough,” said Council Member James Vacca.
Senator Diane Savino said, “I have seen first-hand some of the practices of these ‘adult day cares;’ this was not what Medicaid is for and a gross exploitation of seniors for profit, it must end, thanks to Speaker Quinn’s and the Independent Democratic Conference’s efforts here today, it will end.”
“Social Adult Day Centers are vital in ensuring that older adults living with dementia and other cognitive challenges can enrich their lives and remain safely–and less expensively–in their homes and communities. Seniors, who might otherwise be homebound, can participate in engaging social and therapeutic activities with properly trained and credentialed staff while receiving the personal care and assistance that they need,” said Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Executive Director Warren B. Scharf. “These critical programs also permit family caregivers to work and get the respite they so desperately need. At Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, our intensive CARE Program is an arts-based program for older adults living with dementia that provides a wide range of therapeutic activities, including art, music and pet therapy, from 8:30 am to 7:30 pm Monday through Friday with supportive, well-trained master’s level professionals and artists. We adhere to the New York State Office for the Aging’s regulations and oversight and applaud the City Council’s actions in imposing the same standards on all social adult day programs in the City: New York’s seniors deserve this.”
Bobbie Sackman, Director of Public Policy for the Council of Senior Centers and Services said, “It is important that the city protect vulnerable elderly people and their family caregivers who benefit from adult day services, the professional adult day providers running legitimate programs, as well as ensuring precious public dollars are spent properly. Council of Senior Centers and Services is supportive of City Council’s efforts in this direction.”
“High quality Adult Day programs are enormously helpful for seniors who are coping with physical or cognitive impairments and their caregivers. While we recognize that oversight is essential, we hope that any new regulations do not limit the ability of Adult Day providers to develop unique program models that are both cost effective and responsive to the needs of their specific clients,” said Judy Zangwill, Executive Director of Sunnyside Community Services Social Adult Day Program.
“We appreciate the efforts of our elected officials to address this issue and we look forward to analyzing the impact of this legislation and providing our recommendations for consideration,” said Christopher S. Nadeau, Vice President of the New York State Adult Day Services Association.