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Florida Health Care Association Hails Passage of Landmark Nursing Home Litigation Reform Bill

Urges Governor to Sign Bill Into Law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  April 23, 2014                                       
CONTACT: Kristen Knapp, APR                                                                     
(850) 701-3530 or kknapp@fhca.org

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Health Care Association today praised the Florida House’s passage of SB 670, a landmark nursing home litigation reform measure that will bring fairness to the Florida court system and preserve investment in Florida’s nursing homes. FHCA urged Gov. Rick Scott to sign the bill into law to benefit the more than 70,000 Floridians served by nursing homes every day.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. John Thrasher and Rep. Matt Gaetz, will ensure that nursing home residents are able to pursue lawsuits against those directly at fault for negative events, while preventing unreasonable claims against passive investors who have no role in daily care decisions.

“The passage of this bill represents a victory for Florida’s aging seniors,” said Emmett Reed, Executive Director of the Florida Health Care Association. “Florida’s nursing homes are among the best in the nation and provide the highest level of care. We are indebted to Sen. Thrasher and Rep. Gaetz for their insightful leadership in developing legislation that will ensure that we can continue to meet the needs of seniors now and into the future.”

The legislation is the result of a historic agreement among the Florida Health Care Association, the Florida Justice Association and the American Association of Retired Persons. It introduces realistic and responsible limits to lawsuits against nursing homes and will:

•    Ensure that residents can pursue lawsuits against those directly at fault for negative events, while preventing claims against passive investors and others who have nothing to do with the incident.
•    Utilize the regulatory process to ensure that judgments are paid by giving the state Agency for Health Care Administration the authority to revoke the license of any nursing home operator who doesn’t pay a final judgment, arbitration award or settlement.
•    Require a trial court to hold a hearing and weigh admissible evidence before a punitive damage motion can move forward, clarifying the process without changing any standards.
•    Establish a workable framework for providing appropriate medical records to family members.

Noting that the bill is effective upon becoming law and nursing homes need relief immediately, Reed and FHCA encouraged the governor to sign the measure quickly. “Gov. Scott understands how excessive litigation can destroy investors’ interest in creating new facilities and new jobs in Florida’s vital nursing home industry. We look forward to working with his Administration to implement this new law to improve the lives of Florida’s elders,” Reed said.

For more information on the legislation, visit fhca.org.

Celebrating its 60th Anniversary in 2014, Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) is a federation which serves nearly 1,000 members and represents over 500 long term care facilities that provide skilled nursing, post-acute and sub-acute care, short-term rehab, assisted living and other services to the frail elderly and individuals with disabilities in Florida. The mission of FHCA is to advance the quality of services, image, professional development and financial stability of its members. As Florida's first and largest advocacy organization for long term care providers and the elderly they serve, the Association has worked diligently since 1954 to assist its members with continuously improving quality of care and quality of life for the state’s growing elder care population. For more information about Florida Health Care Association, visit http://www.fhca.org.
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