Benefits & Activities

The Arkansas Residential Assisted Living Association represents the Arkansas Residential Care and Assisted Living Facilities.

Representation with Legislature

Will Rogers once stated that no man’s life or liberty is safe while Congress is in session.  Most legislative actions are that serious but many have unintended effects in areas that might have not been considered at the time.  Sometimes, legislation is intended to cause changes that would cause great disruption in the industry.  Some laws were good at the time they were enacted, but the landscape has changed and now they are a hindrance that needs to be fixed.  In addition, there are many other problems that need to be addressed.

The Association’s legislative function takes both defensive and offensive positions.  In 2001, we were able to get the Assisted Living legislation passed after many years of effort.   Bills that would have required facilities to increase trained staff or provide health care assessments with no reimbursement were examples of changes that we were able to effect.  In past sessions, the future of Medicaid in facilities was in question and required a great deal of effort on the part of the Association.  Also, there was a strong push to have the Permit of Approval (POA) program abolished.  (The POA program is to ensure adequate services in areas of need while preventing over-building by allowing only projects that can establish need for the facility to be completed.)

The Association accomplishes that by doing several things such as retaining a professional lobbyist, establishment and operation of a Special Issues Fund or a PAC, watching and researching legislation that could affect the industry, keeping and using both email and fax lists to notify members of laws that will affect them, and attending the committee meetings where pertinent legislation will be heard.

The Association Lobbyist is Mike Mitchell from the Mitchell, Blackstock, Barns, Waggoner, Ivers and Sneddon firm.  Mr. Mitchell has been a lobbyist for many years. David Ivers has worked on several legal actions for the Association and our members and is an excellent attorney.  Mr. Ivers has been very active on regulations for the Association.  In addition, the firm has an excellent staff and is able to meet the need of the hour.

The Association established a PAC fund that makes political campaign contributions and hosts special functions for legislators.  We solicit donations from our members, which are used as contributions to those legislators sympathetic to our cause to help their campaigns.  The fund is also used to promote the industry with legislators and other elected officials by such functions as receptions and meals.  The fund is supported entirely by industry contributions.

Advocacy to Government Agencies

One of the key duties of the Association is to monitor and act on new regulations.  This is a regulated industry, and regulations affect many areas of our work.  Currently the Association constantly tracks and represents the industry in five regulatory areas and in any others where issues arise that affect the industry.  Complying with regulation is necessary and raises the cost of providing care.  Since it is necessary to comply, we need to have regulations that actually protect or establish the minimum standard in areas that make a difference to our clients without undue burden on the operators.

In addition to the actual regulations, conflicts arise regarding how regulations are interpreted and applied.  Many of the most costly changes that facilities have had to make involved how regulations were applied or interpreted by regulators.  The Association works to see that regulations are applied in a manner in which facilities can comply.

In the event a member needs an attorney, and many have, they have an extremely valuable benefit of having attorneys that serve as both attorneys and lobbyists.  The have a wealth of knowledge on the industry and do not need to study the intricacies to fashion a defense.  This saves members a lot of money and time as well as furnishing them with the finest defense available.

Newsletter

The monthly member’s newsletter, The ARALA Advisor, carries both state and national news items and goes to all members.   Of course the high-profile stories are included, but many of the articles are about items of interest that would not have made any other method of communication.  The newsletter will have articles of special advice on issues such as HIPAA and Medicaid.  It is also the primary method of letting the membership know well in advance what events are planned.  In addition, there is an email version of the newsletter that offers more information in the main stories because it can run them in their full length.

ALFA Membership

Starting in 2003, the ARALA became an affiliate of the Assisted Living Federation of America or ALFA.  ALFA is the premier organization in the assisted living industry.  They represent the industry with the federal government and work at the national level to provide a favorable environment for assisted living.  ALFA researches issues on the national level and provides the state affiliates with that information.  More information about ALFA is available on their website, www.alfa.org .

ARALA Website

One purpose the Association had when this website was started was to provide consumers with information about the industry and give placement agencies information about individual member facilities.  The “Facilities” page will show the members located in a particular county when that county on the may is selected.  Information such as name, address, telephone number and the type of licensure of the community is listed.  If the community has a website or has chosen to post information about their facility on our website that link is available.  The website also provides industry stakeholders with needed information.  The Resources page has links to many agencies that regulate this industry as well as forms, materials and information used by persons in the industry.

Training

The Association began training administrators in the late 1980s.  The ARALA certifies both Assisted Living administrators and Residential Care Facility administrators.  We have a continuing education program that covers basics and the latest issues.  We have also added a Personal Care Aide Training program.  In addition, we have annual conferences and seminars that bring in experts to educate operators on the best practices in business operation and resident care.  We strive to raise the expertise level of our members through training to provide better care for residents.

Networking and Assistance

Every operator has difficulties and many times those are similar to difficulties experienced by other operators.  It is always helpful to get insight from someone else that has had a similar experience.  In addition, many times a number of operators have the same problem at the same time.  In those situations, the Association has sought professional assistance, developed materials and procedures for dealing with situations and served as communication point for members.

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