Thursday, April 16, 2009

And The Week Goes On

As week seven of the 2009 legislative nears a close, a lot has happened. After a stormy beginning, the sun emerged in Tallahassee, which was wonderful for the 50+ FHCA members in town for our last Lobby Wednesday. We welcomed members from Opis Management and Clear Choice Health Care, as well as several of FHCA's Florida Leaders, who joined us for an early morning at the FHCA headquarters in anticipation of a busy day ahead.

It was a good day to be at the Capitol, as there were several health care committees meeting. Most relevant was the discussion on SB 1868, which creates a formulary for nursing homes similar to that in place for hospitals. This is an important issue for FHCA, and during the meeting Dr. Kaplan, a medical director who currently works for Opis, testified in support of the bill. He asked all the long term care providers in the room to stand, and it was an impressive sight. Be sure to check out this week's Provider Program online video update to see more.

HB 1209 and SB 2284, which will give nurses in Florida the opportunity to voluntarily contribute toward the Florida Center for Nursing, are moving in both the House and Senate.

The Agency for Health Care Administration has been working to keep its deregulation bills, HB 651 and its companion, SB 2286, moving in both chambers. In fact, these bills appear to be this year's health care train as there are many other provisions being added on in the form of amendments. These bills contain several deregulation provisions for nursing homes, and we will be pleased to see the final version signed by the Governor.

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a version of the workers' compensation bill (SB 2072); however, it does not match the version passed by the full House (HB 903), so these differences will have to be resolved before it can go to the Governor for signature.

SB 2004 also passed through the Senate Criminal Justice Committee this week. This is the red-light bill, sponsored by Sen. Thad Altman (R-24), which uses a portion of the motorist fines to go toward creating an add-on for qualified nursing homes serving residents with brain and spinal-cord injuries.

FHCA is continuing to monitor the budget which, after today, will head to conference for resolution. Hopefully agreement between both chambers will be reached so the session can end on time.

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