On February 18, 2020, LeadingAge attended a hearing on the appeals filed against Argentum’s designation by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as an Accredited Standards Developer (ASD). In a hearing at ANSI’s New York headquarters, LeadingAge, American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA) and National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) jointly argued their appeals. The Center for Excellence in Assisted Living (CEAL) argued their appeal separately before 13 members of the ANSI Executive Standards Council.

This week’s hearing is the latest event in a long-running debate about the definition, establishment and implementation of standards in senior living. In April 2019, Argentum applied to ANSI for designation as an ASD to pursue voluntary national standards in senior living, including independent living, assisted living, memory care, and life plan communities. LeadingAge and other senior living associations objected to the application; yet, despite the protests, ANSI in September 2019 approved Argentum’s application as an ASD.

LeadingAge and other organizations filed appeals requesting that ANSI reconsider its decision. LeadingAge’s opposition was focused on concerns regarding dominance, lack of transparency, openness, and balance in the Argentum proposed standards development process. Moreover, as indicated by the appeals filed by LeadingAge, ASHA, NCAL, and CEAL, there is no industry consensus for national voluntary standards at this time.

LeadingAge supports efforts to improve quality. But, as we know from our experience in helping to develop care initiatives in other health care and senior care settings, doing so is a serious and arduous undertaking and must include all stakeholders, from provider groups and consumers to researchers, clinicians, and policymakers, at the outset. The ANSI process Argentum is pursuing is not a consensus-based approach and based on our experience in other areas of standards development in aging services, we know standards that are not fully consensus-driven will be met with skepticism from providers, as well as consumers, legislators, and regulators.

LeadingAge, NCAL, and AHSA issued a joint press release on February 18. A decision on the appeal is expected from ANSI within the next 15 days.