An assisted living chain is being investigated for allegedly charging its Florida residents $350 each as a storm surcharge following Hurricane Irma.
The Florida Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) launched the investigation in early October after receiving complaints that the HarborChase chain of assisted living facilities was charging residents a special surcharge because of the storm.
Karla Niethammer, executive director of HarborChase of Tallahassee, told the Tallahassee Democrat the surcharge was meant to subsidize the cost of extra actions to keep residents safe during the storm and that the surcharge is stipulated in the residency agreement.
Florida state law states that a facility cannot impose additional fees for services, supplies or accommodations that are included in a resident’s contract. Facilities also cannot increase rates without giving residents 30 days’ advanced notice.
“We condemn, in the strongest terms, a surcharge placed on residents of facilities,” said State Ombudsman Mike Milliken. “When residents enter an assisted living facility, they sign a contract stating that they will be provided with a set of standard services, including on-site staffing 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, as well as meals and activities. These services must be provided rain or shine, hurricane or no hurricane."
The LTCOP says it also has notified the Agency for Health Care Administration, the state’s long-term care licensing and regulatory agency, the Tallahassee Democrat article reported.
HarborChase has communities in seven states including 16 locations in Florida.