Monday, April 15, 2013

Long term care advocates gather to highlight the importance of a comprehensive, organized approach to health care planning for Florida’s seniors

Sen. René Garcia (R-38) gathered with long term care advocates today to highlight the importance of a comprehensive, organized approach to health care planning for Florida’s seniors. Current legislation being considered (SB 1482 by Sen. Alan Hays/HB 1159 by Rep. Marlene O’Toole) would create a special exemption that would allow nursing homes to be built in special deed-restricted communities, such as the Villages, bypassing state rules and a Certificate of Need (CON) moratorium on new nursing home beds.

“We cannot create special exceptions for single communities or developers,” said Sen. Garcia “This is simply bad policy for our state. Any reforms to the Certificate of Need should take place through a comprehensive process whereby providers, consumers, businesses and all stakeholders come together to discuss solutions that are in the best interest of our citizens.”

Florida Health Care Association, AARP, Florida Council on Aging, Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops and other long term care advocates joined together to oppose Senate Bill 1482 which is on Monday’s agenda in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“The current CON law assists nursing homes with managing the underfunding of Medicaid rates by maintaining efficient occupancy levels and a balanced mix of Medicaid, Medicare and private pay residents,” said Deborah Franklin, Legislative Committee Chair for Florida Health Care Association and Director of Operations for Florida Living Options, which operates three nursing homes and assisted living facilities and two independent living facilities in the central area of Florida. “While this bill may seem to have a limited impact on a single deed-restricted community, it fails to adequately recognize the long term care needs of those residents in the surrounding counties which exist outside the Villages development.”

Steve Bogomilsky, managing operator of Southern SNF Management, spoke about his recent ability to use the current CON process to move underutilized nursing home beds from other communities to build a state-of-the art 120-bed skilled nursing facility that services the Villages. The Villages Rehabilitation and Nursing Center opened last month and offers short-term rehab and longer, skilled nursing care. The facility is one of two skilled nursing centers that have opened within the last year which service citizens of the Villages and the surrounding counties.

Jack McRay, Manager of Advocacy for AARP Florida noted that AARP opposes legislation that would create special “exemptions” to the moratorium. “Let’s not distort the long-term-care market by saddling it and Florida’s seniors with unnecessary nursing home beds and too few home-and-community-based resources and services,” said McRay.

In a statement of support Florida Council on Aging added, “The Florida Certificate of Need has facilitated the appropriate balancing of local, state and federal funding with the controlled development of nursing home beds according to the need formula.”

The Legislature created a Certificate of Need moratorium on nursing homes in 2001 as a way to control Medicaid costs, encourage home and community-based services and ensure the optimum use of nursing home care based on the need and demand for these types of services. The moratorium is currently set to expire in 2016 or when the Statewide Managed Care Long Term Care program is fully implemented, which is expected by early 2014.

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