LaSata legislation to increase state’s ability to investigate long-term care facilities passes House

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation sponsored by Sen. Kim LaSata that would require long-term care facilities to permit the state’s Long Term Care Ombudsman to enter their premises for the purpose of conducting investigations, even if facilities have visiting restrictions in place, was unanimously approved by the Michigan House of Representatives on Tuesday.

“Michigan’s Long Term Care Ombudsman is an advocate for the thousands of vulnerable residents living in nursing homes and other facilities in our state,” said LaSata, R-Coloma. “Unfortunately, the state’s strict lockdowns often stood in the way of the ombudsman’s office doing their job — leaving a number of facilities without proper oversight or accountability.

“Nothing should stand in the way of people in these facilities receiving the care they deserve or incidents from being investigated. This bill would allow the ombudsman’s office to do their job regardless of any visitation restrictions.”

If signed into law, Senate Bill 213 would allow the ombudsman or a representative to enter a long-term care facility without restriction if it is determined that such action is necessary to carry out their jobs and protect residents and staff. If an in-person visit is required to investigate or resolve a complaint, the ombudsman’s office staff must take proper safety precautions, such as applicable health screenings or wearing personal protective equipment, prior to entering a facility.

The bill would align Michigan law with federal regulations to allow the same access hours for the ombudsman and representatives and access to residents’ guardian contact information.

“I’ve worked closely with the ombudsman’s office to address concerns that have come to light as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and I am confident this bill will provide them with additional tools to carry out their job,” LaSata said.

The bill, which is supported by the ombudsman, was approved with bipartisan support in both chambers of the Legislature and now goes to the desk of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for final consideration.