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Nursing Home Cuts Worry Health Care Workers

March 31st, 2008 by flanews

Strict regulations on Floridas nursing homes could be temporarily weakened to save money. The Florida House of Representatives just released its budget recommendations. As Whitney Ray tells us, health care workers fear weakening the standards could put nursing home patients at risk.

Hear it here: Nursing Home Cuts Worry Health Care Workers

Budget cuts have nursing home workers in a frenzy over the safety of their residents. Last week a house budget committee considered temporarily axing standards put in place to regulate quality care. Healthcare workers say the proposed cuts could shut down nursing homes across the state.

The last time they had funding cuts so large you saw several providers go out of business and thats what I fear now, said Chuck Cascio the executive director of Heritage Health Care Center.

Nursing homes receive state money for meeting minimal standards. State law requires nursing homes to provide 2.9 hours of personal care to every patient every day. It also requires one certified nurse for every 40 patients.

The standards were written into law in 2001 in an effort to better regulate Floridas nursing homes. Monday, after dozens of reports highlighting the negative impact of eliminating the standards, lawmakers decided to simply weaken the mandates instead of cutting them completely. The new House budget will require nursing homes to provide 2.6 hours of care a day instead of 2.9. Nurses say the cuts still hurt.

Thats like 18 minutes per patient, in 18 minutes they could go to the bathroom, they could eat, we could talk to them. Theres a lot of things that could go on in 18 minutes, they could fall. Its very serious, said nurse Amy Runkle.

The new house budget anticipates a shortfall of nearly 5 billion dollars. Lawmakers suggest looking to health care to make up nearly a billion dollars of the deficit. House Speaker Marco Rubio says it wasnt easy deciding where to make the cuts. If the house budget is approved, the weakened standards would be in place for at least two years. Last week lawmakers proposed eliminating a Medicaid program to help senior buy eyeglasses, hearing aids, and denture. In the new budget proposal, lawmakers found the 14 million dollars to save the program.

Posted in Health, State Budget, State News | 2 Comments »

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