AARP Florida might be fighting an uphill battle as the organization seeks a veto from Gov. Ron DeSantis for legislation that allows nursing facilities to reduce the minimum number of nursing hours that must be provided to residents daily.
During a Monday afternoon ceremony to mark the end of the 2022 Legislative Session, DeSantis said he thinks there will be “a lot of nursing homes that are very, very happy.”
While he was asked whether he would veto HB 1239 — which allows nursing homes to lower the amount of direct nursing care requirements from 2.5 hours a day to 2 hours a day — DeSantis focused on the amount of increased funding for nursing home providers that was included in the budget instead.
“We are in a situation where it is very hard to find staff,” DeSantis said, noting the Legislature included increased funding for Medicaid rate increases and provided funds to allow nursing homes to pay certified nursing assistants $15 an hour.
“You have people who are making $10 an hour, it’s hard to get people to be able to do that,” DeSantis added. “So being able to increase those rates, I think, will really help with staffing across the board.”
In all, lawmakers directed $293 million for increases to nursing homes in the state’s Fiscal Year 2022-23 budget, which begins July 1. The Florida Health Care Association in its press release said the funding was historic.
AARP Florida Associate State Director for Advocacy Zayne Smith told Florida Politics last week that AARP would mount a veto campaign against the bill, sponsored by Rep. Lauren Melo in the House and by Sen. Ben Albritton in the Senate. Smith said the bill took the state in the wrong direction.
The nursing home industry has long maintained that the nursing home statutes need to be “modernized” and says the legislation accomplishes that goal.
HB 1239 allows the industry to include the work of mental health counselors and physical therapists and others to help satisfy the minimum staffing requirements. The bill was passed after the nursing home trade associations reached an agreement with the Florida Justice Association, which represents that state’s trial lawyers.