Tuesday, April 12, 2011

FHCA Praises Senate Health Regulation Committee for Advancing Important Tort Reform

Fresh off the heels of a New England Journal of Medicine study that shows litigation, or the threat of litigation, doesn't lead to improvements in patient care, the Florida Health Care Association today praised Sen. Rene Garcia (R-40), Chairman of the Senate Health Regulation Committee, and Sen. Ellyn Bodganoff (R-25), sponsor, for their leadership in moving forward on the Nursing Home Litigation Reform bill (SB 1396).

“This study shows that a facility's quality care does not deter the frequency of lawsuits, demonstrating the need for tort reform,” stated Emmett Reed, Executive Director of Florida Health Care Association, the state’s first and largest advocacy organization for long term care providers and the frail elders they serve. “Lawsuits do nothing but improve the wealth of lawyers, demoralize staff and takes resources away from facilities providing good care.”

Prior to the passage of landmark elder care reform in 2001 (SB 1202), a torrent of litigation was draining precious taxpayer resources, demoralizing staff, pitting families against staff and increasing costs. SB 1202 mandated nursing home staffing increases and implemented tougher regulations, mandatory risk management and quality improvement programs, which together have resulted in quality care improvements in Florida’s nursing homes, which today have among the highest staffing ratios in the country. Nursing Home Litigation Reform will eliminate loopholes in that law to artificially inflate the costs of defending litigation and the value of claims brought against nursing homes by predatory trial attorneys.

“Every dollar that does not go toward lawsuits is directed toward patient care,” Reed continued. “We applaud Senators Garcia and Bogdanoff, and the members of the committee, for advancing this good bill and ensuring state and federal funding is used as it should be – on quality nursing home care for our state’s seniors.”

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