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Bill Introducing Reasonable Lawsuit Limits Advances

Contact: Kristen Knapp, APR
(850) 701-3530 or kknapp@fhca.org

Tallahassee, Fla. - Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) today commended the House Civil Justice Subcommittee for supporting legislation that will bring fairness to Florida’s justice system by introducing reasonable limits to lawsuits against nursing homes. House Bill 569 by Rep. Matt Gaetz, along with its companion Senate Bill 670 by Sen. John Thrasher, will ensure that those who need redress have access to the courts while ensuring that the rules are clear, especially for those having no influence over daily care decisions.

The legislation is the product of an historic agreement between FHCA, the state’s first and largest advocacy organization for long term care providers and the residents under their care and the trial lawyer group, the Florida Justice Association, and is supported by AARP. It clarifies and strengthens civil procedures for nursing facility claims, providing clear rules that make it difficult for any party to abuse the system.  

“This legislation is about protecting nursing home care without sacrificing accountability, and we are extremely grateful to Rep. Gaetz and Sen. Thrasher for their leadership in bringing common sense to all sides,” said FHCA Executive Director Emmett Reed. “It properly safeguards the interests of nursing home residents, while giving Florida’s many outstanding nursing homes the assurance that they can continue to provide a high level of care to their residents without fear of excessive litigation.”

The legislation will:

• Ensure that residents can pursue lawsuits against those directly at fault for negative events, while preventing claims against passive investors – banks, creditors, property landlords and others - who have nothing to do with daily care decisions.
• Give the Agency for Health Care Administrator the authority to revoke the license of any nursing home operator who doesn’t pay a final judgment, arbitration award or settlement and prevents operators from transferring that license to any related party during the judgment process.
• Require the 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.

“This proposal fosters an environment that will pave the way for much-needed investment in our state’s nursing homes, allowing for facility enhancements, renovations and technology upgrades,” Reed continued. “At a time when aging baby boomers demand a more person-centered care facility, this is in the best interest of nursing home residents – as it should be.”

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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