Florida health care planners received another 20 letters of intent from entities interested in providing hospice services in Florida, bringing to 83 the total number of entities that are vying this year to provide four new hospice programs across the state.
A letter of intent is not binding, but it is a prerequisite for any entity that intends to submit a Certificate of Need application.
Of the 20 newly received hospice letters of intent, 12 were filed by by entities with an interest in providing hospice services in Escambia County; six were filed by entities with an interest in providing hospice services in Leon County; one was submitted by an entity that has an interest in providing hospice services in Polk County; and one was filed by a vendor with an interest in providing hospice services in Indian River County.
Hospice, nursing homes and intermediate care facilities for the developmentally disabled are regulated by the certificate of need program, often referred to as CON. There are four so-called CON “batching cycles” annually, two for hospice programs and two for nursing homes and intermediate care facilities for the developmentally disabled.
While 83 vendors submitted letters of intent with the state it is unlikely they will all file CON applications by the Sept. 29 deadline. The Agency for Health Care Administration will review all the applications received and announce Dec. 17 which entities it thinks should be awarded CONs. The decisions can be challenged in state administrative court, though, and therefore are not final.
State health care planners in August published a need for four new hospice programs in the state. Escambia, Marion, and Palm Beach counties were all areas with identified need for a new hospice program. A fourth hospice program is needed to serve Hardee, Highlands and Polk counties, but health care planners did not specify where in the tri-county area the hospice had to be built.
The initial letter of intent deadline for the second CON hospice cycle was Aug. 23, and 63 entities filed letters with the state, flagging their interest. The additional 20 letters of intent were filed during a 16-day grace period the state affords interested vendors.