2018 Legislative Session –
Legislative Bulletin
Week Two: January 19, 2018

2018 Legislative Session—Stay Informed!

This is our weekly Legislative Update/Recap report that also will continue through the end of Session to keep you informed regarding proposed legislation and other items that may affect our industry. Additionally, included with this report is the latest copy of the LeadingAge Florida Legislative Bill Tracking Report.

Several bills relating to seniors, senior care and senior care providers have been filed along with proposals for consideration by the Constitution Revision Commission. A listing of bills of interest filed to date and CRC proposals is provided below.

Activity on LeadingAge Florida Priority Bills

Continuing Care Communities

Regarding SB 438 by Sen. Lee/HB 783 by Rep. J. Grant, LeadingAge Florida supports an amendment filed to SB 438 by Sen. Tom Lee (R-Brandon) that provides a balanced approach to reform of chapter 651, F.S., relating to continuing care contracts. The amendment:

  • Provides enhanced regulatory authority to the Office of Insurance Regulation to protect residents in continuing care retirement communities by providing financial triggers for OIR to use to identify and take corrective action against a financially challenged continuing care retirement community early enough to avoid a bankruptcy or insolvency.
  • Provides changes to the process for a certificate of authority, an expansion and an acquisition, among other things, that would result in a less burdensome application process for providers.
  • Provides enhanced disclosure of information to residents.

SB 438 was heard in its first committee of reference earlier this week.  A strike everything amendment that represented policy changes proposed by the Office of Insurance Regulation during the 2017 Session, FLiCRA, on behalf of residents, and LeadingAge Florida, representing providers, passed the committee.

HB 783 has not yet been heard in committee.

Affordable Housing Trust Funds 

HB 191 by Rep. Shaw (D-Tampa) and SB 874 by Sen. Passidomo (R-Naples) prohibit the transfer or use of the state and local housing trust money for any other purpose. As a member of the Florida Housing Coalition, LeadingAge Florida opposes sweeping any of the $322 million anticipated for low-income housing to other state priorities and supports legislative efforts to prohibit the transfer of trust funds for other purposes.

SB 874 passed its first committee of reference this week with over 32 entities, including Volunteers of America and LeadingAge Florida, expressing support for the bill.  It has two more committees of reference.

The companion, HB 191, has two committees of reference and has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

Hurricane Preparedness, Response and Recovery

After Hurricanes Irma and Nate battered nearly the entire state, several bills were filed that, in part:

  • Place requirements on nursing homes and assisted living facilities (ALFs) regarding emergency generators.
  • Require the Agency for Health Care Administration to determine compliance with emergency power requirements through unannounced inspections.
  • Treat nursing homes and ALFs as priorities for power restoration.
  • Create the Florida Strategic Fuel Reserve Task Force within the Division of Emergency Management to develop a recommended strategic fuel reserve for natural emergencies and major disasters.
  • Prohibit workers from being fired for following mandatory evacuation orders.
  • Create the Emergency Power Systems Matching Grant Program to provide matching funds to certain public and private health care facilities for purchasing generators.
  • Mandate that tolls be suspended in counties with a declared state of emergency

Further, the House Speaker created a Select Committee on Hurricane Response and Preparedness, chaired by Rep. Jeanette Nuñez (R - Miami), to address hurricane-related issues. After several Select Committee meetings with hours of testimony from residents, local officials and industry groups, the Select Committee published 78 proposals to protect the state from future natural disasters.

Recommendations are included in the report relating to transportation and evacuation, education, healthcare, and utilities, among others.  The Select Committee report included recommendations requiring nursing homes to have adequate backup power, providing special funding for affordable housing, providing potential cut taxes for the state’s agriculture industry, requiring local governments to work with utilities to speed up power restoration, and providing for the recruitment and training of more shelter volunteers. 

Among the recommendations is a proposal exempting the purchase of gas generators costing up to $30,000 from sales tax. Other proposals included requiring health care facilities to address staffing as part of emergency plans and requiring staff training that includes an annual facility-wide evacuation drill.  Another recommendation would direct the Public Service Commission to study the costs and feasibility of storm-hardening measures for the electric power grid, which could include underground power lines.

The recommendations will be distributed to various committees and subcommittees to determine the potential impacts on the next state budget as the recommendations are considered for inclusion in legislation in proposed committee bills.  They also could be amended onto bills that have already been filed.

Activity on LeadingAge Florida Monitored Bills

HB 483 by Rep. Yarborough and SB 762 by Sen. Mayfield amend the Unfair Insurance Trade Practices Act that provides an extensive list of unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts prohibited in the business of insurance.

Included in this provision of law are prohibitions on certain inducements to the purchase of insurance; however, there are also exceptions provided by law. Among the exceptions is authorization for insurers and their agents to offer and make gifts of merchandise up to $25 per gift to an insured, prospective insured, or any person, for the purpose of advertising. This exception restricts the value of the advertising gift to $25, but it does not limit the frequency of giving or the aggregate value of gifts given over any period of time.

The bill expands the exception for advertising gifts to: 

  • Allow gifting of goods, wares, store gift cards, gift certificates, event tickets, anti-fraud or loss mitigation services, and other items, in addition to merchandise.
  • Authorize charitable contributions in the name of insureds or prospective insureds, up to the specified limit.
  • Remove the limitation that the gifts be for advertising purposes.
  • Increase the maximum allowed value from $25 to $100 per customer or prospective customer.
  • Limit the total value given to any customer or prospective customer to $100 in one calendar year.

HB 483 was amended in its last committee of reference this week and goes to the House Floor next. SB 762 has three committees of reference and has not yet been heard in committee.

HB 551 by Rep. Burton and SB 906 by Sen. Young provide a public records exemption for health care facilities for building plans, blueprints, schematic drawings, and diagrams of certain health care facilities.

Current law provides an exemption from public records for building plans, blueprints, schematic drawings and diagrams that depict the internal layout or structural elements of an attractions and recreation facility, entertainment or resort complex, industrial complex, retail and service development, office development, or hotel or motel development held by an agency. These bills expand the exemption to hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, nursing homes, hospices, or intermediate care facilities for the developmentally disabled.

HB 551 has passed two of its committees of reference and has one more committee. SB 906 passed its first committee of reference this week and has two more committees to go.

HB 259 b Rep. Watson and SB 422 by Sen. Gibson
relating to Elder Abuse Fatality Review Teams authorize the creation of a multidisciplinary, multiagency elder abuse fatality review team (EA-FRT) in each judicial circuit to review closed cases where the death of an elderly person was alleged or found to have been caused by, or related to, abuse or neglect. There are public records exemption bills tied to these bills that make records held or created by the elder fatality review teams confidential and exempt from the public records laws. It also allows a team to close portions of its meeting where confidential information is discussed.

SB 259 was amended and passed in its first committee of reference. There are two more committee stops. SB 422 has passed two committees of reference and is now in its last committee of reference, the Senate Appropriations Committee.

HB 443 by Rep. Slosberg and SB 1428 by Sen. Taddeo
relating to Nursing Home and ALF Resident Rights, and require nursing homes to provide access to resident’s medical records under certain circumstances and within certain periods of time, and also require ALF notices of termination of residency to be sent to the State Long-term Care Ombudsman Program within a specific timeframe.

SB 443 was heard in its first committee of reference, the Health Innovation Subcommittee, this week, which amended and passed the bill. The amendments adopted require assisted living facilities to provide residents with 45 days’ written notice of relocation or termination of residency, and removed the requirement for an assisted living facility to send a copy of the notice of relocation or termination of residency to the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. The amendment also reinstated current law removed by the bill that requires nursing homes provide former residents copies of their records within 30 days of their request. The bill has two more committee stops.


SB 1428 has three committees of reference and has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.


A Week in Review – News from the Capitol

by Leslie Dughi
Director of Government Law and Policy, GreenbergTraurig
 
House Appropriations Subcommittees deliberated on more than a hundred funding requests that members hope will make it into the budget this week. The House plans to craft their budget over the next two weeks and send it to the Senate. The Senate approved a priority of the Governor and both chambers – fighting opioid abuse. A measure was approved in committee that limits the supply of opioids a physician may prescribe to three days, and allows prescribing up to a seven-day supply for specific circumstances.

 

As a majority of the Florida Cabinet is completing their eighth and last year in office, the 2018 election cycle is expected to be a busy one.  On Tuesday, first-term Democratic Representative Sean Shaw (Tampa) entered the race for Attorney General. Shaw, a plaintiff’s attorney, served as the Insurance Consumer Advocate under Democratic Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Alex Sink prior to being elected to the House in 2016. Shaw joins three other House members in the race – Republicans Jay Fant (Jacksonville), Ross Spano (Riverview) and Frank White (Pensacola).  Also running is Republican Ashley Moody, a former Hillsborough County Circuit Judge.

 

Late in the week, Gov. Rick Scott announced that he will not call special elections to fill the seats left vacant by the resignation of Sen. Jack Latvala (R-St. Petersburg) and the death of Rep. Don Hahnfeldt (R-The Villages). Scott’s decision is based on the cost estimates provided by local Supervisors of Election. This means that the seats will be filled during the November general election and, therefore, will not have representation during the current legislative session.

 

A roster of LeadingAge Florida's Priority Bills provides detail on all proposed legislation that GreenbergTraurig is tracking.

 

For more information, please email Susan Langston, Vice President for Advocacy at LeadingAge Florida, or call her at the number below.

 1812 Riggins Road, Tallahassee, FL 32308
 Phone (850) 671-3700 | Fax (850) 671-3790 | www.LeadingAgeFlorida.org