Florida legislative session is a dizzying 60 days where laws and budgets impacting Florida residents are decided. This week, lawmakers in Tallahassee continued to move health care bills through different committees. Here is a quick recap and resources to take action!
SB 192: Medicaid Eligibility
This bill, introduced by Senator Aaron Bean, would eliminate the 90- day Medicaid retroactive eligibility period for nonpregnant adults. Under this plan, pregnant women and children are still eligible for 90 days of coverage, but seniors and adults with disabilities would only have coverage going back to the first day of the month that the person applies.
The bill was heard on March 13 by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services Committee and approved by a 6 to 4 vote. The bill will now move on to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
CS/SB 1088: Nursing Home Facility Staffing
This week, the Senate Health Policy Committee approved a bill that would eliminate a mandate that nursing homes provide each patient an average daily minimum of 3.6 hours of direct patient care, 2.5 hours of which must be provided by a certified nursing assistant. Instead, SB 1088 would require nursing facilities to provide each resident one hour of direct nursing care per day and 3.9 hours of what is called “direct care staffing.” A House version (HB 897) has been filed by Rep. Rick Roth, R- Loxahatchee, but has not been heard in committees.
There is opposition from AARP Florida, SEIU, and others, who believe that the bill would give nursing homes the opportunity to reduce the amount of care provided by certified nursing assistants. Kelly Wilson, Florida Voices for Health's Aging & Disability Consumer Advocate, comments that:
“Creating a care problem to solve a business problem is not a solution. Aging & senior care advocates please pay attention, at first read, sounds as though the proposal is to replace minimum standards with discretionary care and services. I am not quite clear on how less direct & personal care is better for a resident. I am aware of operational challenges that stem from reimbursement and staffing issues but care delivery is at the core of what nursing homes provide to residents. These residents would not or should not be there if they can do these tasks for themselves, the CNA's are at the heart of day to day.”
CS/HB 21: Health Care Facility Market Barriers
Last week, House Speaker José Oliva’s priority of repealing the state’s “Certificate of Need” process moved through the House’s Health Market Reform subcommittee. The “certificate of need” process determines whether hospitals and other healthcare facilities can build or add beds.
Should the state abolish the CON process, existing facilities could face more competition. Some of those facilities have argued that the move will lower their caseloads and could lower the quality of low volume but complex treatment by siphoning away cases needed to keep their providers trained. The Florida Hospital Association is also opposed.
HB 21 will next be heard in the House Health and Human Services Committee on Thursday, March 14 @ 12:00 pm.
Looking Ahead: SB 684: Dental Therapy
On Monday, March 18, dental therapy faces its first major test when the Florida Senate Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affairs hears testimony from supporters of SB 684. If the bill passes committee, Florida could gain the momentum needed to allow dental therapists to serve in our communities.
Please help Florida gain the momentum we need to help eliminate our dental crisis by contacting the seven committee members on the Florida Senate Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affairs before Monday at noon. Please urge the committee members to support this important push for access to affordable, quality oral health care in Florida! You can send an email in one-click by visiting www.bit.ly/dentaltherapyfl.
The House’s Health Market Reform subcommittee is also advancing some of these options including:
HB 999, which would require a facility to provide an estimate of medical bills and prohibit them from substantially exceeding it, with some exceptions.
HB 843, which would require hospitals to inform a patient’s primary care physician within 24 hours of their admission or discharge.
HB 997, which would expand consumer harming short-term health plans.
You can see a list of health care bills currently being considered in the legislature at www.healthyfla.org/flsession. Please reach out to your elected representatives as these issues move forward. You can find your representatives by visiting www.bit.ly/FindMyFLRep.