A wide-reaching agreement is expected to become law this session that would improve Minnesota’s system of protecting senior citizens from abuse and neglect.

Eldercare industry leaders, state regulators and senior advocacy groups finished the deal last Tuesday after two years of argumentative debates, protests and hearings.

This agreement would require proper licensing of assisted living facilities and enforce minimum standards of care — similar to how the state regulates its nursing homes — in order to further protect more than 80,000 Minnesotans who currently reside in senior care facilities.

Under the agreement, residents would be able to use surveillance cameras to report abuse and monitor poor quality of care without concern of retaliations or irrational discharges, safeguarding them in a way they had not been previously protected.

This would also more closely align Minnesota’s regulatory maintenance of long-term care facilities with the rest of the country, at a time when reports of maltreatment are increasing statewide. At present, Minnesota is the sole state in that nation that does not license its assisted living facilities.

A bill withholding many protections has already passed the Minnesota House by a majority. Senate Republicans have vocalized their concerns about the cost of administering the new regulations, which will amount to an additional $50 million over the next four years. Legislative leaders, consisting of a large alliance of industry- and consumer-advocacy groups, warned that refusing to pass this eldercare legislation would be catastrophic for thousands of vulnerable adults in Minnesota.

Should the deal pass during this legislative session as expected, it would represent an immense expansion of protections for seniors in Minnesota.

This article uses information from the Star Tribune.