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8 On Your Side helps convince lawmakers to better protect retirees

Investigations

A Hillsborough state senator credits 8 On Your Side with helping to convince lawmakers to better protect tens of thousands of retirees throughout the state.

Senator Tom Lee (R) Hillsborough County, was concerned about what he heard from residents living in University Village. And by what he saw on News Channel 8.

Photos we aired in January 2018 of bundled up retires sitting in 50 degree temperatures in the dining area of University Village showcased deteriorating conditions.

University Village is a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC).

Retires pay a large entry fee to live there.  

That money is also used for assisted living and nursing care as they age or need it. 

About 30,000 people living in approximately 70 CCRC’s throughout the state.

The state claims John Bartle illegally took over ownership of University Village, then brought in companies operated by relatives and paid them well.

Under companies associated with Bartle, bills went unpaid, repairs were delayed.

In parts of the complex residents suffered through the heat without air conditioning and the cold without heat.  

The place went into bankruptcy, jeoparding the people living there and their promised care.

Concerned, Senator Lee introduced a bill giving the Office of Insurance Regulation the tools he says it needs to regulate this industry.

“And to get engaged earlier in the process in the event that some of these facilities become impaired in the future,” Senator Lee said. 

At a March hearing in Tallahassee he showed lawmakers our report from January 2018.

“Playing that video in committee was much more compelling than anything I could have said to show what happens when these facilities fall into disrepair,” Senator Lee explained.

On the floor of the Senate he reminded lawmakers of what he had seen.

“We had temperatures in the 50’s in these facilities, in the dining hall, there were questions about whether there was adequate medical care taking place,” Senator Lee added. 

In the hope of preventing other University Village like financial debacles, senators passed Lee’s bill 40-0.

If the governor signs the bill, it adds a layer of protection for those living in University Village and in other Continuing Care retirement Communities across the state.

If you know of something that you think should be investigated, call our 8 On Your Side Helpline at 1 800 338-0808.

Contact Steve Andrews at sandrews@wfla.com

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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