Friday, March 26, 2010

Weekly wrap up

This was a busy week in Tallahassee, with a number of bills FHCA's been watching taken up by committees. On Monday, the Health Care Regulation Committee passed HB 7183 by Rep. Hudson, which reorganizes the Department of Health and removes all inspection duties for facilities such as nursing homes. Today, the bill also passed the House Health Care Appropriations Committee, along with Rep. Hudson's HB 1143, which is the regulatory reduction bill that helps providers reduce or eliminate duplicative inspections in nursing homes by agencies other than AHCA.

Background screening legislation was taken up by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee today. Multiple amendments were added to SB 1520 by Sen. Ronda Storms (R-10) to conform it to the House bill (HB 7069); however, two additional amendments regarding child care centers that were added now result in differences between the House and Senate versions.

Another important bill we're watching which was taken up today by the Senate Judiciary Committee is SB 2034 by Sen. Steve Wise (R-5), which would effectively prohibit the use and enforcement of pre-dispute arbitration agreements in long term care settings by allowing the agreement to be rescinded at any time. FHCA associate member Andrew McCumber testified that arbitration is more efficient, less adversarial and has a reduced time to settlement. The bill passed through committee; however, FHCA will continue to work with lawmakers to educate them about the importance of arbitration clauses in ensuring that scarce Medicaid resources go toward improving resident care rather than paying the escalating costs associated with protracted lawsuits.

The Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee amended SB 2008 by Sen. Mike Fasano (R-11) to delay the requirement of Automatic External Defibrillators in ALFs until July 1, 2011, giving providers more time to prepare.

FHCA will continue to monitor these bills as they make their way through the process. In the meantime, legislators will take a short respite for the Easter/Passover break, but will resume mid-week to get back to business. Check back next week for an update on what transpires.

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