Friday, January 27, 2012

FHCA Provider Program: House Budget Released, Members Recap Legislator Visits

FHCA Executive Director Emmett Reed reports on the impact the House proposed budget has on Medicaid funding for nursing home care. Also, both first-time and experienced Lobby Wednesday participants talk about their lawmakers visits.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

House Releases Initial Budget

Today, the House released its initial proposed budget, which contains a 2.5 percent cut to nursing home Medicaid reimbursement rates ($76.1 million). The proposal fully funds price level increases (inflationary increases) and transfers funding for nursing home case load growth to home and community-based programs (no negative impact to nursing home rates). The initial documents released today do not indicate changes in the amounts to be collected via the Nursing Home Quality Assessment Program; however, it is anticipated that the program will be fully maximized at the 6 percent statutory level. The budget uses the transferred case load funds to provide for an additional 1,000 Nursing Home Diversion slots, an additional 207 Assisted Living Medicaid Waiver slots, 1,250 Aged and Disabled Adult Medicaid Waiver slots, and 150 new PACE slots for Lee and Collier counties. The proposed budget also reduces the Nursing Home Diversion rates by 4 percent and uses those savings to fund an additional 1,415 Diversion slots.

The Senate is expected to release their proposal later this week, and FHCA will have more information when that becomes available.

Friday, January 20, 2012

FHCA Provider Program Update: Nursing Home Quality Efficiency Bills Advance

Executive Director Emmett Reed speaks with Rep. Jim Frishe (R-54), HB 621 sponsor, along with FHCA's Lobby Wednesday participants during week two of the 2012 legislative session.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

SB 482 advances

Today, SB 482 by Sen. Jack Latvala (R-16), The Nursing Home Quality Efficiency Act, passed favorably out of the Senate Committee on Health Regulation, despite opposition from trial attorneys and other opponents who are misinformed about this issue. Neither SB 482 or its House companion, HB 621, impact resident care; they simply eliminate requirements that duplicate federal law, with some of those requirements being as much as ten years out of date. FHCA will keep you updated on the progress of these important bills, which put patients ahead of paperwork, as they continue making their way through the process.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

HB 621 Passes Second Committee

HB 621, the Nursing Home Quality Efficiency Act, passed its second committee stop this afternoon, with the Health & Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee voting 14-1 to pass the measure. Bill sponsor Rep. Jim Frishe (R-54) shared important information with the committee about how this bill eliminates outdated reports and requirements in nursing homes (some being 10 years out of date) that are duplicative of federal law/regulations. FHCA supports this bill which would help facilities alleviate some of the cost burdens that come with duplicative requirements and excessive paperwork, allowing staff to "Put Patients Ahead of Paperwork" and focus more time on resident care. The Senate companion, SB 482 by Sen. Jack Latvala (R-16), is expected to be heard by the Senate Health Regulation Committee on Thursday.

Friday, January 13, 2012

FHCA Provider Program: 2012 Legislative Session Begins

FHCA Executive Director Emmett Reed gives a preview of week one of the 2012 legislative session and the priorities for long term care providers this year.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bill that puts patients ahead of paperwork passes House subcommittee

On Thursday, the House Health & Human Services Quality Subcommittee heard HB 621 by Rep. Jim Frishe (R-54), the Nursing Home Quality Efficiency Act which eliminates some outdated reports and requirements in nursing homes which duplicate federal law/regulations. FHCA supports this bill which would help facilities alleviate some of the cost burdens that come with duplicative requirements and excessive paperwork, allowing staff more time to focus on resident care.

Rep. Frishe, Matt Hudson (R-101) and Ronald "Doc" Renuart (R-18) spoke favorably on this important issue, and during the meeting, Florida Catholic Conference and Florida Association of Homes and Services for the Aging stood in support of the bill. Standing in opposition were AARP, SEIU and the Florida Justice Association.  Back and forth testimony during the meeting gave way to common misconceptions about the regulatory environments in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, causing Rep. Renuart to clarify for the committee and audience members present the differences between these two care settings, including the significant oversight process for nursing homes that have been in place since landmark elder care reform was passed in 2001 (SB 1202), which have resulted in substantial improvements in resident quality care.

The bill passed, and its companion, SB 482 by Sen. Jack Latvala (R-16), is expected to be heard in the Senate next week.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Protecting Medicaid funding, putting patients ahead of paper top FHCA's 2012 legislative agenda

Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) today released its priorities for the 2012 legislative session. Topping the list will be to prevent reductions to Medicaid funding for high-quality nursing home care, given the significant funding cuts long term care providers have experienced over the past six months. A 6.5 percent cut to nursing home Medicaid funding during the 2011 legislative session resulted in a $187.5 million reduction that took effect July 1, 2011. In October, federal regulation resulted in a $332 million cut to facilities’ Medicare reimbursements, and with Congress looking at more ways to reduce the federal deficit, facilities could see further reductions.

“Nursing homes have been hit with a tsunami of funding cuts to our Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements over the past six months,” said 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. “If we see more cuts this session, many facilities will have to make difficult decisions which could restrict future access to care; our state’s seniors deserve better.”

Protecting Funding for Nursing Home Quality Care: Florida nursing homes lose an average of $23.97 per patient day or nearly $575,000 annually due to Medicaid under-funding. For a typical nursing home, 70 percent of costs pay for the staff working in the facility to deliver care, with 40 percent of those costs dedicated to direct-care workers. Funding cuts could mean layoffs for frontline caregivers and other employees at a time when Floridians need jobs. Lack of adequate funding could also mean sending seniors and people with disabilities to long term care hospitals or other higher cost settings for those services. With 60 percent of nursing home residents relying on Medicaid as their safety net for their long term health care needs, FHCA is urging legislators to preserve Medicaid funding to protect residents’ high-quality care, ensure future access to care and maintain the jobs of frontline caregivers.

Put Patients Ahead of Paperwork (HB 621/SB 482): Landmark elder care reform passed by the Florida Legislature in 2001 (SB 1202) has resulted in tougher regulation, increased staffing requirements and quality improvement and risk management programs, all of which are enforced through a combined state and federal survey process of the Agency for Health Care Administration. Nursing home care has steadily improved as a result. The benefits of improved oversight of the quality of care for residents, however, have resulted in duplicative requirements and regulations. FHCA supports HB 621 by Rep. Jim Frishe (R-54) and SB 482 by Sen. Jack Latvala (R-16) which would eliminate duplicative paperwork and outdated reports, allowing caregivers working in nursing homes to focus more time on providing resident quality care.

Alternative Funding Resources (HB 1055/SB 1756): FHCA supports SB 1756 by Sen. Joe Negron (R-28) and HB 1055 by Rep. Rachel Burgin (R-56), which would allow life insurance policies to be used for payment of long term care services and would help the state with its growing Medicaid budget deficit by providing alternative resources for individuals to pay for nursing home care.

“Our members are committed to caring for Florida’s most vulnerable population at a level of quality they expect and deserve,” Reed continued. “This session we’ll see hundreds of nursing home employees and family members join us at the Capitol as we continue educating lawmakers about the impact funding cuts are having on facilities' ability to maintain an adequate workforce and continue delivering high-quality care to our state's seniors.”

To learn more about FHCA’s 2012 legislative priorities, find resources to advocate for protecting Medicaid funding to nursing home care and learn more about being involved in FHCA’s Safeguard Our Seniors grassroots campaign, visit