FHCA is pleased to report the Certificate of Need deregulation bill (SB 1144 by Sen. Don Gaetz, R-1) stalled in the Senate Health & Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee today where it was temporarily postponed by the Senate sponsor. This is great progress for long term care providers, as this bill will weaken Certificate of Need reforms that FHCA strongly advocated for in 2014. As we've been reporting, the bill creates an exemption to the Certificate of Need statute for nursing centers, hospice and hospitals. The resulting effects include unmanaged growth, lower occupancy rates and reduced investments needed for resident care.
There is still much work to be done, but this initial progress is the result of the quick action by our members - both here in Tallahassee and from back home. In addition, the strength of our Government Affairs team and the extensive reach of our grassroots initiatives put the CON issue front and center among key Senate leaders. Here's a snapshot of what we've been able to accomplish in just a few days time:
- YOU TOOK ACTION: Members sent nearly 3,000 e-mails to Senators urging them to oppose this bill. Our advocacy partner, Our Florida Promise, also made phone calls to Senate leadership and select members of the Senate Committee to convey the challenges this bill would impose upon nursing centers.
- YOU SHOWED UP: Our Lobby Wednesdays have already brought over 350 members to Tallahassee to discuss CON with their legislators - more than 100 in the past week alone - including owners, executives, administrators and frontline caregivers.
- WE CAME PREPARED: FHCA Past President Deborah Franklin and investment representatives came ready to testify this morning, with FHCA President Joe Mitchell and other members filling the room. Their presence and preparation helped add pressure to Committee members and the bill sponsor.
- WE WENT VIRAL: FHCA's extensive reach on social media and digital channels helped put the CON issue in front of more than 4,000 key advocates, as well as legislators and other political influencers.
As we hit the midpoint of the 2016 session, it's imperative we keep up the momentum to push back against this bill. Senators will continue discussions, and we must ensure our voices are heard. Removing nursing centers from SB 1144 will remain the focal point of our upcoming Lobby Wednesdays over the next two weeks. Our digital advocacy campaign will continue so our messages stay in front of lawmakers and other influencers. And, if you haven't already done so, please take time to send an e-mail to your Senator and urge them to oppose this bill.
As always, FHCA wants to thank you for your ongoing support and advocacy on this issue. We will continue to fight on your behalf and keep you informed.