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Nursing Home Advocates Hope Ruling Will Allow for Negotiation

October 30th, 2017 by Jake Stofan
A ruling by an administrative law judge has blocked Governor Rick Scott’s emergency rule, requiring nursing homes and assisted living facilities to install generators by November 15th.
The Governor plans to appeal the decision, but nursing home advocates are hoping the ruling will open the door for negotiations.
The emergency rule would have required nursing homes and assisted living facilities to install generates capable of powering air conditioning.
It also required four days of fuel on site. Nursing homes challenged the rule, saying the deadline was impossible to meet.
“The installations of those, where we’re going to put the tanks, site plan based on variances and setbacks. There’s so many moving pieces to this. There’s so many moving pieces to this,” said Florida Argentum Association Chairperson, Gwen Thibault.
Following two days of hearings in mid-October, the administrative law judge ruled no emergency existed, especially since Hurricane season ends in a month.
The Florida Healthcare Association hopes the ruling will open the doors for negotiations.
“What we need to do is, we need to bring in the long-term care providers, the generator providers, the fuel providers. Put us around a table and we can figure out a way to make it so every nursing home can keep their residents cool and safe during a hurricane,” said FHCA Lobbyist, Bob Asztalos.
The Governor’s Office says it plans to appeal the decision.
In a statement his Deputy Communications  Director McKinley Lewis said, “It’s disappointing that DOAH issued a shortsighted ruling against protecting lives and elderly Floridians. This ruling is in stark contrast with the favorable ruling the First District Court of Appeal issued last week that affirmed these rules were justified by the emergency circumstances. We will file an immediate appeal to the First DCA. AHCA will continue the public rule making process, and we will also continue our work with the Florida Legislature to make these critical rules permanent. We will not let special interests get in the way of these life-saving measures.”
The Florida Healthcare Association says the Governor’s desire to expedite the installation of the generators could actually be putting residents at more risk.
“You can’t just back up a truck with a generator to a nursing home and plug it in. We want to make sure it’s done safely. If you do it wrong then now you’ve got fire hazards, you’ve got carbon monoxide hazards for the residents,” said Asztalos.
The nursing homes have repeatedly said they don’t oppose generators, just the timeline.
While the ruling is being appealed, the November deadline is still in place, meaning nursing homes and ALFs still may face daily fines if they fail to come in to compliance.

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