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Tom Lee files bill to protect seniors

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State Sen. Tom Lee‘s office announced he had again filed legislation to add financial protections for residents of continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs).

The Thonotosassa Republican, a former Senate President, filed the 70-page bill (SB 438) on Thursday; he filed similar legislation last session.

“Part independent living, part assisted living and part skilled nursing home, CCRCs offer a tiered approach to the aging process, accommodating residents’ changing needs,” according to AARP.

“In the last five years, three CCRCs have filed for bankruptcy in our state, leaving some of our most vulnerable citizens with a lot of uncertainty about what is going to happen in the final stages of their lives,” Lee said in a statement.

“While the majority of these facilities are operating in good faith, these incidents have highlighted the need to reexamine our laws to ensure we’re adequately protecting residents and the assets they’ve worked so hard to accumulate.”

He said his legislation would give the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) “the necessary authority to intervene earlier to prevent a CCRC’s financial challenge from becoming a crisis.”

“A CCRC in my community allowed unqualified and unapproved individuals to take over, bleed the facility of all liquidity, and use bankruptcy as a shield to evade regulatory action,” Lee said.

Among other things, the bill “creates a new early warning intervention system to allow the OIR and CCRCs to work together to resolve any potential issues.”

There are now 71 licensed CCRCs in Florida serving approximately 30,000 residents, according to Lee’s office.

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