Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Florida Health Care Association Praises Senate Health Policy Committee for Advancing Litigation Reform

Citing the importance of protecting nursing home care without sacrificing accountability, the Florida Health Care Association today praised Senator Aaron Bean, Chairman of the Senate Health Policy Committee, and Senator John Thrasher, sponsor, for their leadership in advancing SB 670, the Nursing Home Litigation Reform bill.

“FHCA is thankful to Senator Bean and the committee for hearing this good bill. We applaud Senator Thrasher for his tremendous work on developing a bill that puts the best interests of nursing home residents before all other concerns,” 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. “This legislation properly safeguards the interests of residents, while giving Florida’s many outstanding nursing homes the assurance that they can continue to provide those residents with a high level of care without fear of excessive litigation.”

This proposal marks an historic agreement between the trial bar and the nursing home profession, two sides that have long been on opposite ends of this important issue. “I’d like to thank the Florida Justice Association and AARP for working with us to provide Senator Thrasher with recommendations that we believe are a practical solution to a problem that has vexed elder care for years,” Reed continued. “With this legislation, we can all move forward toward better care for those most in need of our services.

SB 670 clarifies and strengthens civil procedures for nursing home claims to ensure a fair litigation process where the rules are clear and it is difficult for any party to abuse the system. The bill contains four important elements:

1)    It will ensure that residents can pursue lawsuits against those directly at fault for negative events, while preventing claims against passive investors and others who have nothing to do with the incident.

2)    It will make sure legitimate awards are paid by revoking the license of any nursing home operator who doesn’t pay a final judgment, arbitration award or settlement.

3)    It makes it harder to pursue a punitive damage claim where there is insufficient evidence to substantiate it.

4)    It establishes a workable framework for providing appropriate medical records to family members.

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