Nursing Home Bill Soon to Become Law

House Bill 1239- Florida’s Nursing Home bill- only needs the governor’s signature before it takes effect. According to the Florida Senate website, the new law does five things. It specifies non-direct care functions in order to meet required staffing ratios (hours), requires facilities to base their direct-care staffing on their own assessment and the residents’ care plan, revises nursing homes’ staffing requirements, revises the application process for change-of-ownership for facility owners, and changes penalties for facilities not complying with minimum staffing requirements.

Currently nursing homes are required to provide 3.6 hours per day of direct-care staffing by licensed nurses and certified nursing assistants. The new bill would reduce this amount of time to three hours. The time shortfall could be made up by professionals in disciplines such as dietary, dental, podiatry, etc. The bill preserves the current rule of facilities not admitting new residents if the facility cannot meet minimum staffing requirements.

The bill is unique because it pitted the AARP against the Florida Justice Association, a trial lawyer advocacy group. The AARP argued against the bill, stating that it would adversely affect nursing home residents. The FJA supported the bill, claiming it would strengthen the legal rights of residents who fight in court against nursing home facilities.