- Senate and House bills have advanced in Florida to address the nursing workforce shortage and improve care for nursing-home residents.
- The proposed legislation permits certified nursing assistants (CNAs) to become trained as qualified medication aides to administer routine medications, freeing up registered nurses for other needed care.
- The bill aims to enhance job satisfaction for nurses, boost job mobility for frontline caregivers, and improve the quality of care for seniors and people with disabilities.
Legislation aimed at addressing Florida’s nursing workforce shortage and improving care for nursing-home residents has advanced in both the Senate and House. Senate Bill 558 and its House counterpart, House Bill 351, would permit certified nursing assistants (CNAs) to become trained as “qualified medication aides,” allowing them to administer routine medications and perform tasks such as checking residents’ blood glucose levels.
The Senate Fiscal Policy Committee approved SB 558, sponsored by Health Policy Chairwoman Colleen Burton, R-Lakeland, earlier Tuesday. The bill would free up registered nurses to provide other needed care, as qualified medication aides would take on tasks such as administering routine medications.
Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) Chief Executive Officer Emmett Reed said the legislation would help address the historic nursing workforce shortage by enhancing job satisfaction for nurses and offering CNAs opportunities to earn higher wages and broaden their career paths in nursing. CNAs with at least one year of experience would be eligible for additional training to become a qualified medication aide, boosting job mobility for frontline caregivers.
“When nurses can concentrate on higher-level care, they can better detect medical conditions early, leading to more successful treatment outcomes and fewer costly trips to the hospital for residents,” Reed said.
The FHCA is also advocating for litigation reform in the long-term care sector to address the “sue-to-settle” climate, which diverts resources necessary for investing in quality care and damages staff morale.
Reed emphasized the need for continued support from lawmakers to address the long-term care sector’s ongoing economic and workforce challenges.
“The investments we make now will help us forge ahead toward our goals of improving quality, strengthening our workforce, and ensuring that our state’s seniors and people with disabilities have access to the high-quality care they need, today and into the future.”
The House version of the bill is ready to go to the floor for a full vote.