Advocates for Florida’s long term care profession traveled to Florida’s Capitol today to urge lawmakers to protect nursing home quality care as they consider Medicaid reform proposals and prepare to release their legislative budgets. More than 75 nursing home caregivers from across the state met with their local legislators to share the message that nursing homes are efficient and provide quality care to people whose 24-hour medical needs don’t allow for them to safely receive that care in alternative settings. As the Legislature works to overhaul the Medicaid program, protections must be made to safeguard the more than 71,000 frail, vulnerable seniors receiving quality care in Florida’s nursing homes, 60 percent of who rely on Medicaid as their only safety net to cover their health care needs.
“It is critical for lawmakers to recognize the link between stable Medicaid funding and quality care,” said Emmett Reed, Executive Director of the Florida Health Care Association (FHCA), the state’s first and largest advocacy organization for long term care providers and the frail elders they serve. “As the state looks for ways to decrease health care costs, we cannot risk current and future access to quality care for our state’s most vulnerable seniors.”
Other important proposals under consideration include meaningful tort reform to ensure that precious state and federal funding is used for continuing the steady improvements to nursing home resident quality care rather than predatory lawsuits. Providers also discussed a number of bills which would streamline the regulatory process and eliminate conflicting demands on valuable front-line caregivers who are spending time on unnecessary and duplicative processes when their time is better spent at the residents’ bedsides.
Representatives from Gulf Coast Health Care, which manages 34 skilled nursing facilities and three assisted living facilities in Florida, the Pines of Sarasota and Consulate Health Care, which manages 21 skilled nursing facilities in the state, along with long term care professionals from FHCA’s Districts IX in the Jacksonville area, were in Tallahassee as part of FHCA’s Lobby Wednesdays. This weekly grassroots initiative will bring nearly 400 long term care professionals to Tallahassee over the course of the 2011 legislative session. For more information about FHCA Lobby Wednesdays and the Association’s 2011 legislative priorities, click here.