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2017 Legislative Session –
2017 Legislative Session—Stay Informed!
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This is our weekly Legislative Update/Recap report that will continue through the end of Session. Included with this report is the latest copy of the LeadingAge Florida Legislative Bill Tracking Report.
Medicaid Prospective Payment System for Nursing Homes
LeadingAge Florida supports SB 712 by Sen. Aaron Bean which codifies LeadingAge Florida’s alternative model into law. The AHCA proposal would shift $109 million from mostly high-quality nursing homes to mostly lower-quality nursing homes; it therefore threatens the quality of care that is currently delivered by Florida’s nursing homes and will devastate many of the state’s 5-star providers. Because the proposal will mean hundreds of thousands, and in some cases, millions of dollars in losses to high-quality providers, access to Medicaid services for vulnerable seniors will be limited, and quality providers themselves will be threatened. LeadingAge Florida has developed an alternative plan that achieves the goals of simplicity, budget neutrality, and quality without the devastating effects of the AHCA plan. The alternative simply begins with current rates, and allocates the current quality component based on the actual quality performance of the nursing home.
SB 712 has been referenced to three committees. A House companion bill was not filed; however Navigant presented its report to the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee on February 15. During the workshop, several committee members raised questions about the model presented by Navigant and heard testimony from members of LeadingAge Florida opposing the model recommended by Navigant. At the conclusion, Chair Jason Brodeur announced that the House will not be pursuing a change to a Prospective Payment System for Nursing Homes during this Legislative Session but will work on it this summer. He further advised that he’d like for the committee to take a look at a more disciplined approach to this issue.
Certificate of Need for Nursing Homes
LeadingAge Florida supports amendments to HB 7 by Rep. Alex Miller and SB 676 by Sen. Bradley removing provisions in the bills that repeal the certificate of need requirement for nursing homes. Without a Certificate of Need process Florida would experience a significant growth in nursing home beds. This growth would outpace population growth and corresponding need for new beds. Nursing homes are the most expensive component of the long-term care system and an uncontrolled growth in bed capacity would increase overall long-term care costs.
Florida already experiences staffing shortages. The addition of a large number of new nursing home beds would create competition for licensed nurses and certified nursing assistants with concomitant salary and benefit wars. Without some mechanism to control the growth of nursing home beds, a two-tiered system, one for private pay/Medicare and one for Medicaid would emerge.
HB 7 has passed two committees of reference and has one final stop – the House Health & Human Services Committee. SB 676 has been referred to four committees of reference and has not yet been heard in the first committee of reference.
Continuing Care Community Regulatory Reform
LeadingAge Florida opposes the Office of Insurance Regulation’s proposed changes to chapter 651, F.S., until all stakeholders are involved in the process and have the opportunity to identify necessary changes and participate in the development of statutory language. LeadingAge Florida opposes SB 1430 by Sen. Tom Lee and HB 1349 by Rep. Cyndi Stevenson that, if passed, would enact OIR’s excessive regulatory reform proposals into law.
LeadingAge Florida and its 56 CCRC members support thoughtful regulatory reform that protects Florida’s seniors and their investments in senior care. The lengthy bill, developed by the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) without input from stakeholders, makes major revisions to almost every section of Ch. 651, F.S., (the law governing the regulation of continuing care retirement communities) and creates another eight sections of law.
Continuing care retirement communities are not a typical insurance product. That is why the Florida Legislature, like most other states, created a separate chapter of law to regulate them. All the information OIR needs to monitor the financial condition of continuing care retirement communities and detect financial weaknesses is available in the annual, quarterly and monthly reports and data calls that providers are required to file.
The bills create another substantial financial reserve (in addition to the minimum liquid reserve) that OIR has not modeled to determine its effect on individual providers and resident fees. Providers will be required to comply immediately without a phase-in. Failure to meet the requirement could result in the suspension or revocation of the certificate of authority to operate and sell contracts. The bills impose significant financial burdens and risks on CCRC residents; there is no dispute on this point – the Office of Insurance Regulation has testified that its analysis shows an increase in costs to residents as a result of the legislation.
SB 1430 has not yet been referenced to committees. HB 1349 has been referred to the House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee, Health & Human Services Committee and the Commerce Committee.
A hearing has not yet been scheduled on either bill.
Affordable Senior Housing
LeadingAge Florida supports an amendment to SB 854 by Sen. Jeff Brandes and HB 1013 by Rep. Newton adding a representative of LeadingAge Florida to the affordable housing task force created in the bills and a requirement for a task force recommendation on affordable senior housing.
SB 854 has been referenced to three committees and is scheduled to be heard in the first committee of reference, Community Affairs, on March 14th. HB 1013 has been referenced to three committees of reference but is not yet scheduled for a hearing.
A Week in Review – News from the Capitol
2017 Legislative Session Kicks Off in Tallahassee
By Leslie Dughi, Director of Government Law & Policy Greenberg Traurig
Legislators returned to Tallahassee this week and opened the 2017 Legislative Session on March 7. Although interim committee meetings have been held since November, the 60-day clock has now begun as legislators continue to debate policy issues and complete the one act required by the State Constitution – approving a state budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year.
The pomp and circumstance of opening day included speeches to their respective Chambers from House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R-Lutz) and Senate President Joe Negron (R-Palm City) followed by a Joint Session featuring the State-of-the-State address by Governor Rick Scott.
In his address to the Legislature, Gov. Scott continued to push for tax cuts, specifically $618 million, including a reduction in the commercial lease tax as well as several sales tax-free holidays. He has also proposed a $4 billion investment in the environment and plans to increase education funding by $815 million. By far, the Governor’s most high profile priority is funding for two programs – Enterprise Florida (EFI) and Visit Florida – both of which focus on bringing jobs and visitors to the state. Speaker Corcoran has fast-tracked legislation that would eliminate EFI and slash funding for Visit Florida. In response, Gov. Scott’s political action committee has targeted certain House Republicans who voted in favor of abolishing EFI.
Speaker Corcoran’s opening day comments continued his push for ethics reform and increasing governmental transparency. Corcoran will push to establish 12-year term limits for appellate judges and shutter low-performing public schools through increased funding for charter schools. He has also vowed to fight against “any and all property tax increases” and support a measure that would exempt the first $75,000 of a home from property taxes. Political insiders believe this broad-based vow, among other Speaker priorities, is crafted to assist the Speaker in a future run for statewide office.
President Negron’s session priorities include support for higher education by funding student financial aid programs and expanding Bright Futures scholarships. He also wants to establish an Everglades water storage reservoir to divert discharge from Lake Okeechobee to coastal estuaries. And, once again, the Senate President will try to eliminate the tax credit insurers receive on the first 15 percent of employee salaries. The increased revenues from that elimination would go to lowering cell phone and satellite taxes.
On to Insurance Matters… Click here to read more.
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