Emails Reveal Law Changing Florida Nursing Home Standards Written by Nursing Home Industry

Senate 804 Florida Nursing Home

Background info on Senate Bill 804

In the wake of widespread nursing home death and mismanagement during COVID, Florida lawmakers drafted a new bill which relaxes nursing home staffing requirements. According to Senate Bill 804, nursing homes that do not meet the previously mandated staffing requirements will still be allowed to admit new residents, even if they are critically understaffed. Also, non-clinical staff members will now be counted as staff, even though they do not provide care to residents.

Glaringly, recently released emails demonstrate that this self-serving legislation was written and approved by the nursing home industry.

The Fox Guarding the Henhouse?

Emails indicate that Sen. Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula, worked closely with a lobbyist from the Florida Health Care Association, the nursing home industry lobby group, to draft the bill. Emails obtained by the Times/Herald in a public records request show that from the beginning, Albritton’s office was coordinating the bill’s language with Toby Philpot, the chief lobbyist for the Florida Health Care Association. The FHCA represents nearly 600 nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the state. It’s the largest industry group in Florida, a dominant player in the multibillion-dollar long-term care industry.

In October of 2021, Senator Albritton’s legislative aide contacted Philpot and told the lobbyist the requested changes were made, and to “take a look and let us know if it is ready to file or needs any other corrections.”

Inadequate Staffing Lowers Quality of Care

2001 legislation in Florida acknowledged lower quality of care with lower staffing rates. Studies confirm this as well. The 2001 legislation requires that certified nursing assistants (CNAs) provide at least two and a half hours of care to residents. This will change if SB 804 becomes law.

Patient Advocacy Groups Push Back on the Proposed Nursing Home Law Change

Some patient advocacy groups like the AARP have come out against the bill as written. Not only will SB 804 relax staffing numbers, but it will broaden the definition of who is counted as staff.

New laws would consider “personal care attendants” as staff, equal in value to CNAs. These PCA’s receive two days of training before beginning resident care. Lawmakers approved this law with the thought that personal care attendants would eventually become CNAs themselves. Yet PCA’s only become CNA’s in about 38 percent of cases.

Employee unions and elder abuse watchdogs claim that this solution will not sufficiently solve staffing issues, and that it will only cause more care problems for residents, like bedsores and preventable falls. The resolution protects nursing homes but leaves residents vulnerable.

Nursing Homes Deserve Increased Scrutiny, Not a Pass to Hire Fewer, and Less Qualified, Staff

The for-profit nursing home industry has a terrible track record of doing the right thing. Florida’s nursing homes were already dangerously underregulated. We cannot move the goalposts on what is acceptable care for our most vulnerable seniors. Loosening regulations is not a solution, but rather, a governmental approval of nursing home abuse and neglect.

Did you loved one suffer abuse or neglect inside a nursing home? Call Senior Justice Law Firm today at 888-375-9998 for a free case consultation.

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