State Residential Care and Assisted Living Policy: 2004. Introduction

03/31/2005

This compendium describes regulatory provisions and Medicaid policy for residential care settings in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It updates an earlier report completed in 2002. Information was collected between February and June 2004 by reviewing state web sites and regulations and calling key state contacts to verify information. Section 1 provides an overview of residential care and assisted living policy. Section 2 presents six tables, which compare states' policy in selected areas. Section 3 provides summaries of each state's regulations and policy for residential care settings, including assisted living facilities.

This edition of the compendium differs from earlier editions in that it uses "residential care setting" or "residential care facility" as the generic terms for all types of group residential care settings, rather than the term assisted living. Although many states use the term assisted living generically to cover virtually every type of group residential care on the continuum between home care and nursing homes, for many stakeholders the term assisted living still represents a unique model of residential care that differs significantly from traditional types of residential care such as board and care. When discussing state statutes and regulation, the compendium uses the terms that each state uses.

Although adult foster care/adult family care is a type of residential care, it is not included in this report. However, some states now license adult foster/family care under their assisted living regulations. For example, North Carolina's statute defines adult family homes as serving two to six residents and adult care homes serve seven or more residents, but licenses both settings as assisted living residences.

Thirteen states (Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah) define at least one licensing category to include all residential care settings that serve one or more residents. Three states (Florida, Minnesota, and Tennessee) have a threshold of two or more, and eight states (Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Vermont) have a threshold of three or more. A few states have different thresholds within a licensing category.

Consequently, in some states, the number of people served is no longer a major factor distinguishing the licensing category of adult foster/family care from that of assisted living. However, these states may still designate the number of people who may be served to distinguish between types of settings for other regulatory purposes, e.g., staffing requirements. Information about thresholds is generally noted in the state summary tables in Part III of this compendium.

Residential care is an important long-term care service option, particularly for individuals who cannot live alone but do not require the skilled level of care that nursing homes provide. The purpose of this compendium is to inform residential care policy by providing detailed information about each state's approach to regulating residential care, as well as its funding for services in these settings.

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