Monday, March 2, 2009

FHCA talks long term care with U.S. Senator Bill Nelson

On Friday, February 27, Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) member Lisa McGinley of Brynwood Center in Monticello joined FHCA Executive Director, Emmett Reed, and several FHCA staff members to meet with U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) at his Tallahassee office. The meeting provided an excellent opportunity for the Association to discuss the critical federal issues that impact long term care in Florida, including the arbitration, the Employee Free Choice Act (or card check) and the Stafford Act.

The group also provided the Senator with a historical timeline of how nursing home quality has steadily improved in Florida since the passage of landmark elder care reform in 2001, which mandated increasing minimum staffing requirements up to 2.9 CNA hours of care per resident, along with tougher regulation, quality improvement and risk management programs. The recent creation of the Quality Assessment Program during the 2009 Florida legislative special session helped nursing homes avert significant, increased funding cuts by allowing the state to draw down more federal dollars to fund nursing home care.

Discussions with Senator Nelson also surrounded the anticipated influx of federal stimulus dollars through the passage of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 and what that means to long term care providers and the residents they serve in Florida. Mr. Reed, Ms. McGinley and the others shared with Sen. Nelson that the Florida Health Care Association and the members it represents will be urging legislators during the 2009 regular session to preserve Medicaid funding to support the 2.9 hour staffing mandate and ensure facilities have the resources needed to not only continue providing quality care, but also to make much-needed renovations to aging facilities, modernize health care settings through health information technology and meet the growing demands of Florida’s aging baby boomers through a strengthened health care workforce.

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