Citing a collaborative revision process with the state government, a major long-term care (LTC) industry trade group has withdrawn its opposition to a Florida rule that would require the use of backup generators in skilled nursing facilities.
LeadingAge Florida formally rescinded its objection to the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA)’s proposed rule last week, with a spokesperson for the group — which represents non-profit SNFs and other senior care centers in the state — telling SNN that the state listened to its commentary.
“Last week, AHCA released an improved version of the rule that includes those suggestions and retains the spirit of the rule — keeping residents safe during an emergency — while providing flexibility in a number of key areas,” LeadingAge Florida director of communications Cecka Rose Green said in an e-mail.
“Subsequently, LeadingAge Florida’s Board of Directors voted to withdraw our most recent challenge of the proposed permanent nursing home generator rule,” Green continued. “Further, we truly appreciate Gov. [Rick] Scott and AHCA Sec. Justin Senior for their willingness to discuss our concerns and to work with us to develop the new proposed rule.”
Scott and various other state officials scrambled to implement mandatory generator rules in the wake of Hurricane Irma last summer — with the tragic case of 14 deaths at a nursing home in Hollywood, Fla. that lost power during the storm serving as an example of what can happen without adequate alternative power sources.
But LeadingAge and other LTC advocates objected to the rules on the grounds that they would be too costly to implement in such a short period of time, and noting that a previous December 1 deadline would fall outside of the Atlantic hurricane season.
The updated rule includes multiple concessions from the state government, including a reduction in the size of the space that must be cooled — dropping from 50 square feet per resident to 30 — and allowing SNFs to use portable generators in case of evacuations. Furthermore, nursing facilities located outside of evacuation zones can either maintain backup power sources on have a prearranged agreement with a firm that can deliver a generator and fuel upon request.
In addition, providers that must perform renovations in order to meet the new requirements can apply for an extension through January 1, 2019, exempting them from a fast-approaching June 1, 2018 deadline.
The proposed rule still requires approval by the state legislature, Green said.
Despite its acceptance of these regulations, LeadingAge Florida remains in opposition to another generator rule proposed by the state’s Department of Elder Affairs. The organization is currently working with that department to reach a similar compromise solution, Green said.
Written by Alex Spanko