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2017 Legislative Session
At the end of each week, we will post the summary of the legislative activity on LeadingAge Florida priority issues and other bills of interest. To review the weekly updates, click on the weekly links below.
2017 Legislative Priorities Summary
2016 Legislative Session
April 4, 2016
With final passage of an $82.3 billion dollar budget for FY 2016-17 along with tax relief for businesses and families, Florida’s Legislative Session concluded on time on Friday March 11, 2016. The budget makes investments in Florida’s education system, health care, environment, corrections and court systems. This year, the Florida Legislature passed 279 bills during the Legislative Session, representing 15.4% of the total bills filed, as compared to passage of 13.2% of the bills filed in 2015.
This was a very successful Legislative Session for LeadingAge Florida with many bills advocated for and monitored by LeadingAge Florida passing the Legislature. The following final report highlights the victories and accomplishments of LeadingAge Florida and includes the key issues funded in the budget, as well as health care legislation and other bills of interest passed by the Legislature.
LeadingAge Florida’s 2016 Legislative Priorities
Prior to the convening of the 2016 Legislative Session the LeadingAge Florida Board of Trustees approved several 2016 Public Policy Priorities. These priorities and the outcomes of LeadingAge Florida’s advocacy efforts on these issues are described below:
- Preserve the Certificate of Need for Nursing Homes – LeadingAge Florida supports the retention of a CON process for nursing home beds. The CON process encourages efficient use of less restrictive long-term care options and, therefore, restrains long-term care cost increases for Medicaid as well as for all other payers.
HB 437 by Rep. Chris Sprowls relating to Certificates of Need for Hospitals removed CON requirements for new, expanded or modified hospitals. LeadingAge Florida’s members and advocacy team expressed concerns about expanding this legislation to nursing homes to both the sponsor and legislative leadership and the bill died on Calendar.
SB 1144 by Sen. Don Gaetz relating to Certificates of Need for Health Care related Projects. The bill did not repeal certificate of need for hospitals but rather provided an exemption from the CON requirement for projects providing access to care for uninsured and low-income residents. The bill also would have required new hospices, hospitals, and nursing homes to provide twice as much charity care as established facilities. LeadingAge Florida was prepared with amendatory language to remove nursing homes from the legislation and was joined in our opposition to the bill by many other interested stakeholders, and ultimately the bill failed to pass its second committee of reference and died in Committee. LeadingAge Florida’s advocacy team will continue to educate legislators about the CON process and the need to retain it for nursing home beds.
- Support funding in the Governor’s Legislative Budget Request for $500,000 to the Agency for Health Care Administration to contract with an independent consultant to develop a plan, in concert with interested stakeholders including LeadingAge Florida, to convert Medicaid payments for nursing home services from a cost-based reimbursement methodology to a prospective payment or similar system – The current Florida Medicaid Long-Term Care Reimbursement Plan was developed over 30 year ago with input from stakeholders. The plan has been tweaked periodically, but it has fundamentally served Floridians well by encouraging providers to spend adequate money on care rather than profit, subject to cost limits and caps. During the 2015 Legislative Session, the House proposed funding a study to transition nursing home reimbursement from fee-for-service to a prospective reimbursement plan. The House proposal called for a very short study time-frame and no formal input from stakeholders. It is important lawmakers call for a longer study period so AHCA has sufficient time to collaborate with providers and other stakeholders in the development of a prospective payment system which is appropriate for Florida and does not undermine the quality of nursing home care. LeadingAge Florida proactively supported the Governor’s and Legislature’s budget recommendations and the funding for the study was included in HB 5001, the General Appropriations Act, passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Scott. LeadingAge Florida looks forward to being actively involved in the development of a fair, equitable reimbursement system that has quality care at its core and has held initial meetings with AHCA to share LeadingAge Florida’s priorities for a new Medicaid Prospective Payment Plan.
- Modify the Gold Seal Nursing Home Financial Criteria for Nursing Homes that are Part of Continuing Care Retirement Communities – LeadingAge Florida supports language to modify the financial requirements for the Gold Seal Program and allow a Continuing Care Retirement Community, under certain circumstances, to meet the financial standards adopted by AHCA for the Gold Seal Program by submitting CPA reviewed or audited financial statements for the corporation that owns the CCRC rather than the nursing home component.
HB 127 by Rep. Travis Cummings and SB 542 by Sen. Kelli Stargel relating to Continuing Care Communities were filed at the request of LeadingAge Florida members. As LeadingAge Florida’s top legislative priority for 2016, our members and advocacy team supported this legislation throughout the process. The bill passed the Legislature, has been signed by Governor Scott and is now in effect.
- Expand the Prescribing Authority for Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners – LeadingAge Florida supports authorizing advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs) acting under the direction of a licensed physician to order controlled substances for patients. Florida is one of a few states that does not allow ARNPs full prescribing authority, yet these professionals play an increasingly important role in our health care system, particularly in long-term care settings where physicians are not on site to oversee pain management.
HB 1241 by Rep. Plasencia relating to Ordering of Medication includes language advocated for by LeadingAge Florida expanding the ordering authority for Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners (ARNPs) and Physician Assistants (PAs) and authorizes an ARNP to order any medication for administration to a patient in a hospital, ambulatory surgical center, mobile surgical facility or nursing home within the framework of an established protocol. LeadingAge Florida successfully advocated for including nursing homes in this legislation which passed the Legislature and has been signed into law by Governor Scott.
HB 423 by Rep. Pigman relating to Access to Health Care Services authorizes ARNPs to prescribe, dispense, order, and administer controlled substances, but only to the extent authorized under a supervising physician’s protocol. A committee is established to recommend a formulary of controlled substances that an ARNP may not prescribe or may only prescribe for a specific use or in limited quantities, and prescribing privileges are limited in certain circumstances. LeadingAge Florida supported this legislation which passed the Legislature. The Governor has until April 14 to act on this bill.
- Increase Funding for Home & Community-based Services (Medicaid Managed Long-Term Care Program) – LeadingAge Florida supports increased funding for Home and Community-Based Services. During the 2016 Legislative Session, LeadingAge Florida supported funding in the final budget, HB 5001, that included an increase in funding for home and community-based services ($8.14 million to remove over 500 individuals from the long-term care waitlist managed by DOEA) and Community Care for the Elderly (an increase of $1.9 million to serve approximately 324 individuals at risk of nursing home placement); two programs used by residents of affordable housing senior communities. This funding increase may also benefit LeadingAge Florida members receiving state and federal funds to provide these services.
The final budget includes an increase of $1.6 million for the Alzheimer’s Disease Initiative to provide additional respite services for approximately 133 individuals. Funding was also appropriated by the Legislature for FY 2016-17 to increase PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) slots.
- Use Housing Trust Funds for their Intended Purpose – As a member of the Sadowski Housing Coalition, LeadingAge Florida supports and advocates for the appropriation of all the state and local housing trust fund money to be dedicated for affordable housing. The Legislature passed and the Governor approved a final total appropriation of $275 million for affordable housing ($200 million from the Housing Trust Fund and approximately $75 million from the Guarantee Program to be spent on the State Apartment Incentive Loan (SAIL) program). This Session, almost $117 million was swept from the Housing Trust Fund into General Revenue. LeadingAge Florida will continue to support the Sadowski Housing Coalition and advocate that funds from the Housing Trust be used for their intended purpose.
- Retain Statutory Safeguards for Medicaid Managed Long-Term Care Related to Consumer Choice, Quality, and Reimbursement Adequacy – Florida's Medicaid Long-Term Care Program includes important safeguards to ensure that elder consumers have a choice when selecting a nursing home that will be their “home” for months or possibly years, among other protections. LeadingAge Florida monitored all legislative activities to ensure these provisions are maintained and continues to advocate quality care as the core of any proposed reimbursement system.
- Fund a Medicaid Price Level Increase for Nursing Homes – Florida’s legislative budgeting process no longer provides automatic price level increases for nursing homes. During the 2010 session, nursing home rates were frozen and all subsequent increases have to be explicitly authorized by the Legislature. As of September 1, 2015, about 85 percent of nursing homes are reimbursed below their cost of care for Medicaid residents. A price level increase was not included in the 2016-17 General Appropriations Act. LeadingAge Florida initially believed that a price level increase would be forthcoming during the 2016 Legislative Session, however, the statutory per day reimbursement limit precluded the increase for 2016-17.
LeadingAge Florida’s advocacy team was actively involved in legislation of interest to our members including the following bills passed by the Legislature:
- Prescription Drug Monitoring Program – SB 964 by Sen. Grimsley relating to Prescription Drug Monitoring Program exempts a rehabilitative hospital, an assisted living facility or a nursing home dispensing a controlled substance, as needed, to a patient as ordered by the patient’s treating physician, from the reporting requirements of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP). LeadingAge Florida supported this legislation as the new law benefits LeadingAge members by allowing a doctor to treat his/her patient by leaving an order for pain medicine at the nursing home or ALF and exempting them from the reporting requirement. This bill has been signed into law by Governor Scott.
- Nurse Licensure Compact – HB 1061 by Rep. Pigman relating to Nurse Licensure Compact allows nurses who receive their certification in a participating state to also practice in Florida without having to go through additional training. The legislation provides a structure for a revamped compact which will supersede the current compact and need approval from participating states. LeadingAge Florida supported this legislation addressing the nursing workforce shortage issue by allowing Florida nurses to request multi-state licenses, and nurses from other states who hold multi-state licenses to practice in Florida. The bill has been signed into law by Governor Scott.
- Firesafety for Assisted Living Facilities – HB 965 by Rep. Harrison relating to Firesafety modernizes firesafety codes for Assisted Living Facilities. The legislation allows for the adoption of the current edition of the NFPA Life Safety Code for ALFs. The new law will allow an assisted living facility licensed prior to July 1, 2016, to remain under the 1994 and 1995 Life Safety Code (LSC) by affirmatively notifying the local authority. Such an ALF may make certain repairs or renovations in compliance with the 1994 code under certain circumstances. However, an ALF undergoing Level III building alteration or rehabilitation or seeking to utilize features not authorized under the 1994 or 1995 editions must comply with the newer standards adopted by the State Fire Marshal. Working with the Florida Chapter of the Assisted Living Federation of America, LeadingAge Florida supported this proposal which has been signed into law by Governor Scott.
- Transparency in Health Care – HB 1175 by Rep. Sprowls relating to Transparency in Health Care requires hospitals and insurers to make certain information available to consumers to make health care decisions based on cost and quality and creates a website for consumers to see costs by health care providers. LeadingAge Florida successfully advocated removing a provision from the bill requiring nursing homes, upon request, to provide a written good faith estimate of reasonably anticipated charges for services provided by the nursing home within seven business days after receiving a request and to provide information disclosing payment plans, discounts, other available assistance, and collection procedures. The bill has been presented to the Governor who has until April 14th to act on this bill.
- Telehealth – HB 7087 by Rep. Sprowls relating to Telehealth authorizes the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), the Department of Health (DOH) and the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) to survey health care facilities, health care practitioners, insurers, and health maintenance organizations, regarding the use of telehealth. The AHCA must submit a report of the survey and research findings to the presiding officers and the Governor by December 31, 2016. A Telehealth Advisory Council is created within AHCA to make recommendations based on the surveys and research findings of the agencies. The bill provides for the make-up of the advisory council, to consist of 15 members, including two representatives of long-term care services one of whom shall be a representative of a nursing home. The bill has been presented to the Governor who has until April 14th to act on this bill. LeadingAge Florida is actively advocating for representation on the Advisory Council.
Many legislative proposals were monitored regularly by LeadingAge Florida’s advocacy team for any provisions or amendments affecting our membership, including the following bills passed by the Legislature:
- Residential Facilities – SB 1174 by Sen. Diaz de la Portilla relating to Residential Facilities clarifies the siting requirements for community residential homes. The law currently addresses distance requirements for citing of community residential homes. Homes with 7 – 14 residents may not be constructed within 1,200 feet of another such home; a home of 6 or fewer residents may not be constructed within 1,000 feet of another such home. There is no requirement for the distance between a 7-14 resident home and a 6 resident or fewer home. The new law sets that distance requirement at 1,200 feet. The bill also provides a grandfathering provision for existing community residential homes lawfully permitted and operational as of the effective date of the act. This legislation is intended to address an issue occurring primarily in Miami-Dade County.
- Long-Term Care Managed Care Prioritization – HB 1335 by Rep. Magar relating to Long-Term Care Managed Care Prioritization clarifies the roles of the various state agencies with authority to implement and regulate the long-term care waitlist. The new law codifies the role that the Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA) currently has to assess and prioritize individuals on the waitlist for home and community-based services available through the Medicaid Long-Term Care Program – a program that frail residents of affordable housing depend on. DOEA is required to maintain a statewide waitlist for enrollment for the home and community-based services portion of LTCMC, and to prioritize individuals for potential enrollment using a frailty-based screening tool that generates a priority score. The DOEA must develop the screening tool by rule and make publicly available on its website the specific methodology used to calculate an individual’s priority score. The bill requires individuals to be rescreened at least annually or upon notification of a significant change in the individual’s circumstances. The following persons are exempted from the screening and waitlist process: individuals who have been in a nursing facility for at least 60 consecutive days and want to be discharged back into the community, individuals who are between the ages of 18 and 20 who have a chronic debilitating disease or conditions that make them dependent upon 24-hour medical supervision, or individuals who have been referred by Adult Protective Services and are at risk of abuse.
- Missing Persons with Special Needs – SB 230 by Sen. Dean relating to Missing Persons with Special Needs creates the “Project Leo” pilot project in five North Florida counties – Alachua, Baker, Columbia, Hamilton, and Suwannee – and separate pilot projects in Palm Beach and Hillsborough counties. The pilot projects are to provide personal devices to aid search-and-rescue efforts for persons with special needs in the case of elopement. While the bill does not define special needs, the staff analysis specifically describes elopement and wandering of children with autism and individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia as individuals with special needs.
The pilot projects will be developed and administered by the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at the University of Florida for the North Florida counties. The Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at Florida Atlantic University will develop and administer the Palm Beach County project and the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at the University of South Florida will develop the criteria for the Hillsborough County project. The bill appropriates $100,000 in nonrecurring funds for each CARD center. Each center is to submit a preliminary report by December 1, 2016, and a final report to the Governor and Legislature on the implementation and operation of its pilot project by December 15, 2017.
- Guardianship – SB 232 by Sen. Detert relating to Guardianship provides for the regulation of professional guardians, currently not regulated in Florida, by the Office of Public and Professional Guardians (previously named Statewide Public Guardianship Office) within the Department of Elder Affairs. The law requires annual registration of professional guardians and gives the Office of Public and Professional Guardians disciplinary and enforcement powers. LeadingAge Florida will monitor implementation of the new law, including the development of rules for the professional guardian program which has already been noticed by the Department of Elder Affairs.
- Housing Assistance – SB 1534 by Sen. Simmons relating to Housing Assistance provides greater flexibility and increases accountability for programs receiving public funds to address housing assistance and homelessness. The State Apartment Incentive Loan (SAIL) program provides low-interest loans on a competitive basis to affordable housing developers each year. The bill amends the SAIL program to:
The State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) program provides funds to local governments to create partnerships that produce and preserve affordable homeownership and multifamily housing for very low, low and moderate-income families. The bill amends the SHIP program to:
- Change how funds are made available to better reflect projected needs and demand for affordable housing for the specified tenant groups and counties based on population; and
- Require rent controls on rental units financed through the SAIL program based on applicable income limitations established by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.
- Provide exceptions to the restriction on counties and eligible municipalities related to expenditures of SHIP Program distributions for ongoing rent subsidies;
- Provide that up to 25 percent of the SHIP Program funds made available in a county or municipality may be reserved for rental housing;
- Clarify monitoring requirements when SHIP program funds are used for rental housing developments;
- Extend the time period for the FHFC to review local housing assistance plans from 30 to 45 days;
- Require local governments to use a minimum of 20 percent of SHIP program distributions to serve persons with special needs, with first priority given to serving persons with developmental disabilities; and
- Authorize local governments to create regional partnerships and pool appropriated funds to address homeless housing needs identified in local housing assistance plans.
- Physician Assistants – HB 375 by Rep. Steube relating to Physician Assistants authorizes a physician assistant (PA) to perform services delegated by a supervising physician related to the PA’s practice and in accordance with his or her education and training, unless such services are expressly prohibited by a statute or rule. The legislation streamlines the PA licensure and licensure renewal processes.
- Licensure of Health Care Professionals – HB 941 by Rep. Gonzalez relating to the Department of Health (DOH) amends laws relating to programs administered by the DOH. The legislation among other provisions allows temporary licensure of military health care practitioners, enabling them to practice in health care settings in this state. The legislation extends the amount of time an emergency medical technician (EMT) or a paramedic has to renew a lapsed certification and to pass a certification exam for such renewal, and exempts an EMT or a paramedic not trained in this state, who passes a nationally recognized certification examination, from the state certification examination. The bill exempts chiropractors licensed in another state who participate in an approved continuing education (CE) program from licensure, and exempts manufacturers of home renal dialysis kits from pharmacy permit requirements, and allows DOH to issue a one-year temporary license to a medical physicist. The new law also repeals the Council on Certified Nursing Assistants.
- Behavioral Health Workforce – HB 977 by Rep. Peters relating to Behavioral Health Workforce among other provisions adds psychiatric nursing as a certification eligible for licensure as an advanced registered nurse practitioner and authorizes a psychiatric nurse to prescribe psychotropic controlled substances within an established protocol with a psychiatrist. The legislation also subjects psychiatric nurses to additional disciplinary actions related to the prescribing of psychotropic controlled substances.
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse – SB 12 by Sen. Garcia relating to Mental Health and Substance Abuse enhances the statewide system of safety-net prevention, treatment, and recovery services for substance abuse and mental health administered by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) by amending statutes related to behavioral health managing entities (ME), the Criminal Justice, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse Grant Program, and the Baker Act (mental illness) and Marchman Act (substance abuse). The legislation identifies the components of a coordinated system of care to be provided for individuals with mental illness or substance use disorder and defines a “No Wrong Door” model for accessing care. It directs AHCA and DCF to modify licensure requirements through the rulemaking process, if possible, to create an option for a single, consolidated license to provide both mental health and substance use disorder services.
AHCA and DCF are directed to develop a plan to increase federal funding for behavioral health care and compile detailed documentation of the cost and reimbursements for Medicaid-covered services provided to Medicaid-eligible individuals by providers of behavioral health care services. The legislation more closely aligns the Baker and Marchman Acts by modifying the legal procedures and timelines as well as processes for assessment, evaluation, and provision of services.
- Mental Health Services in the Criminal Justice System – HB 439 by Rep. McBurney relating to Mental Health Services in the Criminal Justice System expands the authority of courts to use treatment-based mental health and substance abuse court programs for defendants who are involved in the criminal justice process at both the preadjudicatory and postadjudicatory level. The legislation:
- creates the Forensic Hospital Diversion Pilot Program, which is to be modeled after the Miami-Dade Forensic Alternative Center, and authorizes the Department of Children and Families to implement the pilot program in Duval, Broward, and Miami-Dade Counties, if existing recurring resources are available;
- authorizes county court judges to order misdemeanants to involuntary outpatient placement if the misdemeanants meet specified criteria;
- creates statutory authority for each county to establish a mental health court program that provides pretrial intervention and post-adjudicatory programs and authorizes courts to order adult and juvenile offenders who have mental illnesses to participate in such programs;
- expands the definition of “veteran,” for the purpose of eligibility for veterans’ court, to include veterans who were discharged or released under a general discharge; and
- expands the statutory authorization for certain offenders to transfer to a “problem-solving court” in another county to also include transfer to delinquency pretrial intervention programs.
- Medical Use of Cannabis – HB 307 by Rep. Gaetz relating to Medical Use of Cannabis amends the compassionate use statute on low-THC cannabis to include medical cannabis prescribed by a qualified physician for eligible patients allowing a patient with a terminal condition to use “medical cannabis” under the Right to Try Act (RTTA). The bill authorizes approved Dispensing Organizations to cultivate, process, transport, and dispense medical cannabis for use by RTTA patients. Increased regulatory oversight by the Department of Health is provided. The bill creates stricter criteria ordering physicians must meet before ordering low-THC or medical cannabis, including establishing a patient relationship for a certain length of time, new education requirements, informed consent, a prohibition on being a medical director employed by a Dispensing Organization, and an order limit of a 45-day supply at a time. Penalties are provided. New standards for Dispensing Organizations are provided, including standards for growing, processing, testing, packaging, labeling, dispensing, distributing, and transporting of cannabis. The bill also authorizes independent testing laboratories to possess, test, transport, and lawfully dispose of cannabis. The use and administration of cannabis under certain circumstances is prohibited and criminal penalties for violations are created. The DOH is authorized to approve three additional Dispensing Organizations.
- Sunset Review of Medicaid Dental Services – HB 819 by Rep. Diaz relating to Sunset Review of Medicaid Dental Services removes dental services from the list of minimum benefits that Medicaid Managed Assistance (MMA) plans must provide, effective March 1, 2019. Effective July 1, 2017, the Agency for Health Care Administration must implement a statewide Prepaid Dental Health Plan program for children and adults and begin enrollment by March 1, 2019. The Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) is required to prepare a report on Medicaid dental services. The legislation specifies requirements of the report which must be submitted to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives by December 1, 2016. The Legislature is to use the findings of the report to establish the scope of minimum benefits under the MMA program for future procurements of eligible plans; specifically, the Legislature may use the findings of the report to determine whether dental benefits should be benefits under the MMA program or be provided separately.
The following bills monitored by LeadingAge Florida did not pass the Legislature but are noteworthy as legislative proposals to be on the look-out for in 2017, including some bills that have been filed at least two years in a row:
Weekly Briefing Reports:
Wrap Up - April 13
Week Nine - March 11
Week Eight - March 4
Week Seven - February 29
Week Six - February 19
Week Five - February 12
Week Four - February 5
Week Three - January 29
Week Two - January 22
Week One - January 15
LeadingAge Florida 2015 Legislative Session Wrap-up
Florida House Abruptly Ends 2015 Legislative Session
In an unprecedented move, House of Representatives Speaker, Steve Crisafulli, (R-Merritt Island) abruptly ended the regular 2015 Legislative Session at 1:15 PM on Tuesday, April 28 (three days before the scheduled end) without giving advance notice to the Senate which remained in session. Using records dating back to 1970, a similar situation could not be found.
The Senate reconvened on Wednesday to take up 50 bills in messages from the House. Bills that were left hanging when the House adjourned are dead for this year. Fortunately, the three bills of greatest priority to LeadingAge Florida members passed both chambers before House members left Tallahassee.
The move by Crisafulli took rank-and-file House members and the Senate by surprise. The sudden shutdown will not help ease the tension between Crisafulli and Senate President, Andy Gardiner, (R-Orlando) over opposing positions on the use of federal Medicaid expansion funds available to Florida as a result of provisions in the Affordable Care Act. As a result, the House adjourned without the Legislature passing a budget for fiscal year 2015-2016.
The Senate developed a hybrid proposal to use federal Medicaid money to provide health care coverage through the private sector to approximately 800,000 additional uninsured Floridians. The House is adamantly opposed to accepting federal funds to expand the Medicaid program. To complicate matters, future funding by the feds for a $2.2 billion federal-state hospital funded program known as the Low Income Pool (LIP) is in question. The two state budget plans differ by $4 billion. Typically, the session would have been extended by a few days to resolve the problem, but this was no ordinary session. The two chambers are so far apart their leaders will need time to develop a plan before returning to Tallahassee. At this point, neither the House nor the Senate appears willing to back off of their respective position. The next fiscal year begins on July 1, 2015. A state budget must be passed before then.
A special session can occur in one of three ways. The Speaker of the House and Senate President can file a proclamation with the Secretary of State asking for a special session. The Governor may issue a proclamation calling for a special session. Or, the Legislature can initiate a special session if 20 percent of its members file a petition with the Secretary of State who then must poll lawmakers to determine if three-fifths are in agreement. If they are, the special session would start between 14 and 21 days from the date of the polling. Only topics specifically identified in the special session call may be discussed during a special session.
LeadingAge Florida Priority Bills Passed Both Chambers before House Adjourned
As a result of our team’s early and proactive lobbying with all members of the relevant committees and others, bills of importance to LeadingAge Florida were passed by both houses of the Florida legislature and did not fall into limbo when the House adjourned early. The following priority bills passed the House and the Senate and will become law unless vetoed by the Governor (to view bill text click on the bill number):
- ALF Regulation -- CS/CS/HB1001 by Rep. Larry Ahern, the result of four years of work, expands the type of assistance with medication and health care devices that unlicensed staff with training may provide in an assisted living facility with a standard license; decreases the number of required monitoring visits for ALFs with an extended congregate care or limited nursing license; strengthens the current fine structure; expands the ALF consumer website; etc. The effective date is July 1, 2015.
- CCRC Regulation -- CS/HB 749 by Rep. Charles Van Zant modifies requirements for continuing care retirement community contracts that tie refunds to the receipt of the next entrance fee for a specific unit or unit type; clarifies the role of the residents’ council; and adds additional disclosure requirements. The effective date is October 1, 2015 with longer implementation dates for required contract changes. This bill was filed on behalf of LeadingAge Florida and the Florida Life Care Residents Association (FLiCRA).
- Hospital Patient Admissions Status Notification -- CS/HB 309 by Rep. Shawn Harrison requires hospitals to notify patients in their discharge papers if the hospitalization was classified as an observation stay or an inpatient admission. The effective date is July 1, 2015.
Other Bills of Interest That Passed Both Chambers
- State Ombudsman Program -- SB 7018 by the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee revises the duties of the Office of State Long Term Care Ombudsman; revises conflict of interest policies for those serving as ombudsman volunteers; and modifies the requirements related to what long term care facilities must provide to representatives of the ombudsman program. The effective date is July 1, 2015.
- Florida's Right to Try Act -- CS/CS/HB 269 by Rep. Ray Pilon addresses a person's right to experimental treatment for a terminal condition. The bill passed without language that was in the Senate companion, SB 1052, by Sen. Jeff Brandes, that would have recognized in Florida law Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST), and allowed for POLST to be used in lieu of a do not resuscitate order to withhold cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The effective date is July 1, 2015.
- Health Care Representative -- CS/CS/CS HB 889 by Rep. John Wood allows a person who designates a health care surrogate to stipulate if he or she wants the surrogate to make healthcare decisions without a determination of incapacity or only if the principle is incapacitated. The bill contains language that suggests the use of a health-care surrogate form which means other forms are acceptable. The effective date is October 1, 2015.
- Guardianship -- HB 5 by Rep. Kathleen Passidomo and José Javier Rodríguez changes the way guardians are appointed and explicitly prohibits the abuse, exploitation or neglect of an elderly ward. Reforms in the bill, which was filed in response to investigative reporting by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, are intended to improve how guardians are appointed, better protect the wishes and rights of an incapacitated person once a guardian assumes power over them, and clarify the responsibilities of guardians. The effective date is October 1, 2015.
- Nursing Home Facility Pneumococcal Vaccination -- SB 332 by Sen. Denise Grimsley requires nursing home residents to be assessed for eligibility for the pneumonia vaccination or revaccination. The effective date is July 1, 2015.
LeadingAge Florida is the only statewide association representing the full continuum of care for seniors. We represent over 400 communities statewide that serve the needs of more than 80,000 Florida seniors. Some of the ways in which we excelled in 2014 were:
LeadingAge Florida members are known for the high quality of care and services they provide to residents throughout the state. Our goal is to provide members with cutting-edge information and training materials that will allow them to survive and thrive, including:
• Weekly alerts containing the latest state and federal regulatory changes and occupancy trends.
• Many FREE and regular webinars on timely topics that enhance regulatory performance for all levels of staff.
• One of the most popular and successful FREE webinars this year was offered by Connie Cheren, RN, MSW, on an EBOLA update. Over 125 participated in this very up to date pre-holiday program.
• Access to highly respected and national known experts that can respond to member concerns and offer hands-on consulting for longer term projects.
• Connie Cheren joined our expert staff and responded to many nursing home regulatory topics and issues.
• Free conference calls with members to discuss topic of interest throughout the year.
• Provided a weekly electronic newsletter with timely information related to each of our member provider types.
• Published a disaster preparedness manual to help members and their residents prepare for hurricane season.
• Workshops, including:
o Advocacy In Action Legislative Workshop
o OIR-2014 CCRC Webinar
o CFO Workshop – in Partnership with Zeigler
o Seeing Into the Future Conference
o Regional Meetings held around the state
o 51st Annual Convention and Exposition
o Leadership Academy VI
LeadingAge Florida’s Leadership Academy offers a challenging and engaging learning experience. It is designed to help services professionals at any level in their organization accelerate their leadership development, so they are better equipped to serve their field. In 2014, we offered the Leadership Academy to a class of future leaders. Their training for Leadership Academy VI ended in November 2014.
LeadingAge Florida is Proud of Our Gold Seal Members!
The Governor's Panel on Excellence in Long-Term Care designates Gold Seal Members to recognize nursing homes for meeting high standards and quality of care. Ten of the 21 Florida Gold Seal designees are LeadingAge Florida members.
The strength of LeadingAge Florida’s advocacy efforts sets us apart from other provider groups. We serve with a seasoned staff and retained experts to provide up-to-date and trusted information to members, lawmakers, and regulatory agencies on a wide range of topics that affect long-term care. We are the only association that represents the full continuum of long-term care and senior housing providers to legislative and regulatory staff. We empowered our members and kept them informed in 2014 in the following ways:
• Weekly Legislative Call Updates – Held weekly legislative conference calls during the legislative session to keep members informed of proposed changes and opportunities to participate in grass roots advocacy.
• Published weekly legislative alerts during the Florida legislative session including a legislative preview and end of session wrap-up.
• Encouraged participation of LeadingAge Florida members at Local Delegation Meetings – To attend their local delegation meetings and let the legislators know what is on the minds of LeadingAge Florida's members and share issues facing our association.
• Members Served on the Governor’s Continuing Care Advisory Council – After LeadingAge Florida contacted the Governor and his staff, Peter Dys (Chair), Troy R. Hart, Roger Stevens, and Richard J. Scanlon were either appointed or reappointed to serve on the Council.
• LeadingAge Florida and FLiCRA Task Force – members of both associations met throughout the year to work with OIR on issues impacting CCRC resident involvement in community governance and resident financial deposits. The activities of this task force will culminate in legislation for the 2015 legislative session that will address both issues.
• LeadingAge Florida awarded the Advocate of the Year Award to John Hehn of Florida Presbyterian Homes, Lakeland, Florida.
Our public policy team worked closely with legislative, regulatory, and advocacy experts throughout 2014 and represented members in the following areas:
• LeadingAge Florida successfully advocated for 500 PACE slots that the Governor signed into law in the budget
• Increase for funding for Community Care for the Elderly (CCE) by $5 million to provide services to seniors on a waiting list representing a 9% increase.
• LeadingAge Florida worked tirelessly in advocating for the increase in personal needs allowance from $35 per month to $105 per month.
• Nursing Homes also received a substantial price level increase of 4.2% or $127 million increase over prior year budgets.
• Worked diligently to avert unnecessary regulatory changes to Assisted Living facilities.
LeadingAge Florida joined with the Florida Housing Coalition to support the preservation of funds for affordable housing in Florida in light of the passage of Amendment 1 to the Florida Constitution that would also fund environmental issues from the state excise tax funds. A group of 30 members strong, the Amendment 1 housing effort was able to get the support of the legislature to maintain housing funding from the state excise tax funds.
LeadingAge Florida Night
Once again, LeadingAge Florida offered an opportunity for members to meet, greet, and network at the Nashville, Tennessee Florida Night in conjunction with the LeadingAge national Annual Convention in October 2014. Over 100 LeadingAge Florida members attended what has become an annual event for Florida attendees of the national convention.
After the 2014 Convention, LeadingAge Florida began its transition to the new database program. In this instance, the database company the Association was contracted with was bought out by another company, hence the need to change database software platforms. It was no easy task to keep operations going while behind the scenes staff worked extremely hard to go through the process of training on the new software, migrating data to the new program, and then entering new data going forward with association activities. While unseen by most members, the database drives the LeadingAge Florida website, allows members to register for programs, allows staff to pull various member types for specific communications and marketing materials, and many more functions.
LeadingAge Florida continues to offer the services of group purchasing through ValueFirst. The member communities that use ValueFirst recognize significant savings on the day-to-day purchases they make on goods and services for their residents. Members can easily participate in ValueFirst with a no-obligation agreement to allow ValueFirst to conduct comparative cost studies on products and services for our members. By allowing us to compare your current costs to the ValueFirst supplier costs, in many instances, the ValueFirst quotes offer considerable savings.
Currently 210 of LeadingAge Florida members are taking advantage of their purchases through ValueFirst which represents a 20% increase in member participation. For more information on how you can take advantage of ValueFirst savings contact Robert Bernal at (850) 671-3700. Members have nothing to lose and only savings to gain!