Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) today hailed the Florida Legislature for taking critical and necessary steps during the 2014 legislative session to improve the quality of life for the state's long term care residents.
"From passing important legal reforms to authorizing additional nursing home beds, Florida lawmakers proved to be strong champions for taking care of the needs of our state's long term care residents." said FHCA Executive Director Emmett Reed. "As Florida's senior population continues to grow, it's important to note that lawmakers made it a top priority to ensure residents continue receiving high-quality care in our state's nursing homes. The passage of a care-centered budget, which triples the personal needs allowance for the first time in over 25 years, will enhance the quality of life for Florida's long term care residents. We sincerely appreciate the work lawmakers accomplished on behalf of Florida's elders and others in long term care."
FHCA is the state's first and largest advocacy organization for long term care providers and the residents under their care. The Legislature passed these FHCA priorities during the 2014 session:
Nursing Home Tort Reform: Senate Bill 670 by Sen. John Thrasher and House Bill 569 by Rep. Matt Gaetz introduce reasonable limits to lawsuits against nursing homes. The legislation is the product of a historic agreement between FHCA and the trial lawyers group, the Florida Justice Association, and is supported by AARP. It clarifies and strengthens civil procedures for nursing facility claims, providing clear rules that make it difficult for any party to abuse the system. The legislation (as CS/CS/SB 670) overwhelmingly passed the House 109-7 and passed the Senate 36-3.
Certificate of Need: House Bill 287 by Reps. Frank Artiles and Alan Williams and Senate Bill 268 by Sen. Denise Grimsley encourage the establishment of new or expanded facilities to meet the demands of Florida's changing demographics of its aging population and provide for incentives to update, modernize and expand aging facilities to ensure that they are equipped to meet residents' current and future high quality care needs. It also preserves the current Certificate of Need (CON) law, which promotes health care cost containment, encourages home- and community-based care and prevents unnecessary duplication of long term care services. The legislation (as CS/CS HB 287) passed the Legislature unanimously, gaining 116-0 approval in the House and 38-0 support in the Senate.
State Budget: The budget approved by lawmakers includes $35.4 million in dedicated funding for long term care residents, including provisions that preserve Medicaid funding for nursing home care and, for the first time in more than 25 years, boosts the personal needs allowance for nursing home residents. The spending plan triples the resident personal needs allowance, helping residents who rely on Medicaid as their long term care safety net to pay for personal items that improve their quality of life – things such as beauty services, clothing and other personal items.