Important Home Care Measures Near Final Votes as State Legislative Session Closes-in on Finish Line

 

Several measures moving through the Florida Legislature which would impact home health are on the home stretch, reaching the floors of the House and Senate for votes this week and next, prior to the May 3rd end of the Legislative Session. HCAF has been working hard as each bill moves through the process to advocate for changes to the law which will benefit the home care industry in Florida. See below for the status of each issue:

Reduction of Quarterly Report to Twice-Per-Year /Elimination of Report Requirement for License-Only Agencies
HCAF has been working diligently to eliminate the unfair and burdensome home health quarterly report. With lawmakers and regulators currently unwilling to completely get rid of the report, we continue to make it easier and less punitive on our members. Last year, HCAF was successful in reducing the fine for missing the reporting deadline from $5,000 to $200 per day. This year, our language that would reduce the report to twice-per-year and require it only for certified agencies is up for a final vote in the House of Representatives today as part of HB 7105. The Senate companion, SB 1254, is scheduled for a vote next week.

Raising the Medicaid Private-Duty LPN Rate
Without a rate increase in over 27 years, providing Medicaid home health in Florida has become cost prohibitive to most agencies. Although the legislature approved an increase last year, the measure was vetoed by Governor Rick Scott. This year, the legislature has agreed to over an additional $11 million dollars to increase the Private Duty Nursing rate for LPNs who serve Prescribed Pediatric Extended Care patients. These medically fragile children are some of home care’s neediest patients and this increase would go a long way to assisting agencies in being able to better cover costs when treating them now and in the future.

Eliminating Accreditation Requirements for License-Only Personal Care
Early this week, an amendment was added to SB 1254 that would eliminate accreditation requirements for non-Medicare/Medicaid certified agencies that do not provide any skilled care. This would have a large impact on this sector of the industry, due to the large costs of earning and maintaining accreditation In addition this requirement is a significant hurdle for those non-skilled, non-certified providers who wish to sell their businesses.  In the past, HCAF’s members have been on the fence when it came to whether they felt this business model should require accreditation, therefore HCAF has not previously taken a position on the measure. The bill could be placed on the calendar to appear on the Senate Floor anytime next week and we are watching it closely.

Nurse Registries Business Model Clarification
Another measure ready for a final vote would clarify the Nurse Registry business model within Florida Statute. Specifically, it defines workers as independent contractors that are not employees of the registry. SB 976 and HB 1179 are both ready for a final vote in the Senate and House as soon as today. While HCAF supports our Nurse Registry members, we feel this is a matter that will be decided at the Federal level and that such actions on the state level will have little or no impact. However, HCAF will continue its vigorous opposition in the national arena against certain aspects of the Federal Employer Mandate and the pending elimination of the Companionship Exemption.

HCAF will continue to work for measures that will help our industry and will be reporting the outcome of all changes made by the legislature which will affect home health in both our online communications and at our 2014 Spring District Meetings.

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