Wednesdays are always busy health care days in the Capitol, but as nearly 100 FHCA members descended upon the halls, it soon became apparent that their presence was not one to miss. The Lobby Wednesday group this week included representatives from Districts 4, 5 and 11, FADONA, Sea Crest Healthcare Management, as well as PPS Results Group, an FHCA associate member.
Legislators did not let them down as the Senate Health Care Regulation Committee kicked off the morning hearing SB 1562 by Senator Mike Bennett. As expected, the Long Term Care Ombudsman spoke against the bill, stating the health care of residents is up to the Ombudsman and that the Ombudsman program has changed the persona of nursing homes due to the care that these volunteers provide to residents. FHCA Chair Deborah Franklin followed with passionate testimony about her 25+ years in long term care and the focus she and her fellow providers in the audience have on quality of care and quality of life for residents. She took time to thank the Ombudsman volunteers who do spend time in facilities advocating on behalf of residents, but noted that the administrative assessment has evolved to duplicate the inspection AHCA is already conducting on facilities through its certified team of nurses, dieticians, life safety experts, etc.
The passage of 1562 will help the Ombudsman refocus their role back on resident advocacy and provide them more time to spend in the facilities, speaking with residents, family and staff about the important role they play in resolving resident complaints. FHCA is thankful to Senator Bennett for the great job he did in responding to this issue and correcting the record, and the bill passed favorably out of the committee, 7-1.
Later in the day HB 433 passed the House Health Care Services Policy Committee, with only seconds to spare at the end of the meeting. This bill creates a "therapeutic formulary" for nursing homes, similar to that used in hospitals. The House Health Care Regulation Committee also approved HB 1097, which begins the implementation of electronic records in Florida.