• State lawmaker pushing to protect seniors in assisted living facilities from major price hikes

    By: John Paul

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A state legislator told Channel 9 Tuesday there are loopholes in North Carolina that let assisted living facilities take advantage of seniors by hiking prices or even kicking them out.

    Laura Gaska knows all too well how much power assisted living facilities have. Her mom, Carol Ann, is in her 80s and lives at a private-payer facility in south Charlotte.

    Recently, Gaska learned her mother has to pay more if she wants to stay.

    “It disturbs me and it disturbs my mom,” Gaska said. "She went up $1,100 per month on top of everything else, so she's at $8,100."

    Gaska showed Channel 9 the contract that says the price could go up if her mom needed extra care.

    But the price hike was a surprise because her care hadn't changed, so she hired a lawyer.

    “They were eventually able to come back and say it was due to level of effort,” Gaska said.

    The center said the hike was because the staff was working harder to care for her mom.

    State Rep. Scott Stone said the contracts are too subjective.

    He said he has heard a number of complaints from people in the same situation.

    “They are taking advantage of the most vulnerable, both physically and financially,” Stone said. “We've all got to agree that the actual care you're giving is what I'm paying for and what I'm getting.”

    Stone is working on legislation that would do just that and make it harder to discharge a senior.

    Currently, facilities only have to give them 30 days before sending them somewhere else.

    “They're fearful of complaining; objecting to some of the things or questioning the costs because they don't want to be discharged,” Stone said.

    The proposed bill is in the works. If it doesn't make it for the short session next week, Stone said he will keep pushing.

    The latest numbers showed that in 2016 there were nearly 4,000 complaints about assisted living facilities in North Carolina.

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