Yesterday, the House Health Care Appropriations Committee passed language to provide for a combined (nurses and CNAs) weekly average staffing standard of 3.9 hours per resident per day, while retaining daily minimum staffing of 1.0 hours per patient day for licensed nursing and 2.7 hours per patient day for CNAs, which was included in the House Medicaid conforming bill (HB 5301). FHCA's Senior Director of Policy, LuMarie Polivka-West, testified before the committee about nursing homes are caring for residents with a much higher acuity level as a result of Florida doing a good jog of identifying the appropriate placement for those individuals requiring nursing home care (Florida has the second lowest percentage in the country of with its over-65 nursing home population at just 2.1% - compared to the national average of just under 5%). She also noted how the federal government is anticipating an increase in direct care nursing with RUGS IV and the composite 3.9 staffing will allow nursing homes to better accommodate the Medicare changes.
Last week, the Senate Medicaid conforming bill (SB 1464) passed with identical language. If the final legislation passes, the combined 3.9 CNA/direct nursing per patient day will allow additional flexibility in meeting the needs of higher acuity residents with additional licensed nursing staff.