Friday, April 1, 2011

Florida Health Care Association Praises House Civil Justice Subcommittee for Addressing Tort Reform

Reducing predatory lawsuit costs key to saving taxpayer money and enhancing senior care

Citing the importance of preserving precious Medicaid dollars used for nursing home resident quality care, the Florida Health Care Association today praised Representative Eric Eisnaugle(R-40), Chairman of the House Civil Justice Subcommittee, and Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-4) and Shawn Harrison (R-60), sponsors, for their leadership in moving forward on the Nursing Home Litigation Reform bill (HB 661).

“Due to the important role Medicaid plays in long term care funding, comprehensive tort reform allows everyone to win by reducing costs and enhancing quality of care,” 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. “Every dollar that does not go toward predatory lawsuit costs is used for the quality health care of our patients and residents.”

Prior to the passage of landmark elder care reform in 2001 (SB 1202), torrent 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.

“Lawsuits and litigation do not improve anything except the wealth of the lawyer bringing the lawsuit,” Reed continued. “We applaud Representatives Eisnaugle, Gaetz and Harrison, 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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