A nursing home group is legally challenging Gov. Rick Scott’s executive order mandating that nursing homes and assisted living facilities have generators installed within 60 days.
LeadingAge Florida, which represents more than a 100 facilities across the state, says the timeframe laid out in Scott’s order is “impossible” to meet.
“There is no emergency that requires the imposition of an impossible deadline and the imminent revocation and imposition of fines on assisted living facility and nursing home licenses throughout the state,” the nursing home group claims in a challenge filed with the state Division of Administrative Hearings. “The emergency rules would create an emergency rather than solve one.”
Scott’s order was issued last week and came in response to the deaths of patients at a nursing home in Broward County that lost air conditioning after Hurricane Irma tore through South Florida more than two weeks ago.
LeadingAge Florida says not only are the deadlines unrealistic, but adds that the penalties for not meeting those deadlines are severe. Under the rules of the order, the state can revoke the license of any nursing home or assisted living facility that doesn’t meet the requirements in 60 days as ordered.
“Florida has maintained a large population of elderly for many years, and thousands of those residents have resided safely in assisted living facilities and nursing homes in Florida,” according to the challenge filed late Tuesday. “Only the recent events at a single nursing home in Broward County are cited as the basis for declaring an immediate threat to the public’s health and safety.”
The challenge claims the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Department of Elder Affairs, have failed to indicate that the actions of that facility occurred at any other nursing home or assisted living facility in Florida.
AHCA Secretary Justin Senior spoke at a meeting of industry representatives held in Tallahassee last week to address the emergency rules. Senior told those who attended that the governor intends to move forward with the executive order.
“We think very strongly that the cost of not complying with this rule is greater than the cost of compliance,” Senior told reporters last week.
Last week’s meeting of industry officials was held by both LeadingAge Florida and the Florida Health Care Association. Both organizations expressed concern at that time about being able to meet the state’s requirements for having the generators installed.
However, FHCA does not plan to challenge the governor’s order. Instead, the association and its nearly 600 members say they want to work with the state to overcome any challenges posed by the 60 day deadline to have generators installed at those facilities.
“FHCA is concentrating on helping our members find ways to comply with the rule, efforts that include offering an educational webinar and other resources to assist them as they work through a process in which generators are installed safely and correctly,” said Emmett Reed, the association’s executive director.
Reed says resident safety “is and must” be the top priority for association members.
“At the same time, we want to work with the administration, the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Legislature to determine how we can best achieve the Governor’s goal in a way that is realistic and doesn’t result in plans that could lead to other unintended consequences,” Reed added.