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Florida Long Term Care Professionals Travel to Capitol Hill, Urge Congress to Protect Access to Care for Seniors, Individuals with Disabilities

Washington, D.C. – Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) joined over 600 long term and post-acute care professionals from across the nation for the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living’s (AHCA/NCAL) Congressional Briefing. The annual event gave advocates the opportunity to meet face-to-face with Members of Congress to discuss the long-term care sector’s legislative priorities and the impact decisions in Washington have on residents in Florida. 
During Congressional Briefing, leaders from FHCA and its “Caring Together” partner, the Florida Assisted Living Association, along with more than 30 care professionals from Florida’s nursing centers and assisted living communities—including operators, administrators, and direct caregivers—met with their Members of Congress and their staff to advocate for supportive solutions that prioritize seniors’ and individuals with disabilities’ access to high-quality care. 
This year’s priority issue is the Protecting America’s Seniors’ Access to Care Act (S. 3410/H.R. 7513), which would block a federal staffing mandate for nursing homes recently finalized by the Administration. The unfunded staffing mandate will have a detrimental impact on Florida’s nursing centers, as it will undermine Florida's existing staffing standards and the progress being made to enhance access to high-quality care for the state's growing aging population. New data shows that nearly 75 percent of Florida’s nursing centers cannot currently meet the one-size-fits-all requirements and would need to hire over 3,800 additional nurses and nurses’ aides to meet the requirements, costing facilities an additional $226 million per year. 
“In light of the federal staffing mandate, it is more important than ever to meet with our lawmakers and advocate on behalf of our seniors and caregivers,” said Emmett Reed, CEO of FHCA. “Protecting access to care must be a priority, and we look forward to meeting with members of our Congressional delegation and engaging in discussions on how our leaders in Washington can better support our growing elderly population and those who care for them.” 
Additionally, consequences of the federal staffing mandate for nursing homes could jeopardize access to all types of care, including assisted living facilities and other senior living settings, especially in rural and underserved communities that may not have the workforce levels to support these requirements. 
“Assisted living providers continue to struggle with workforce shortages, and a staffing mandate on nursing homes will have a ripple effect across the entire long-term care continuum,” said Bijou Ikli, CEO of the Florida Assisted Living Association. “Our assisted living facilities are still struggling to return their pre-pandemic workforce levels, and this mandate threatens to reduce the available pool of caregivers that our providers depend on to meet the quality care needs of their residents.”
With the significant increase in labor costs resulting from the federal staffing mandate, it is anticipated that long-term care centers will experience higher turnover rates, which could negatively impact quality of care. The lack of a sufficient workforce may also affect seniors’ access to care, as it could force providers to reduce or limit the number of individuals they can accept. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects senior living industry employment to rise in the years ahead, with a need to fill more than 3 million openings between 2024 and 2040, specifically in assisted living and continuing care retirement communities.
AHCA/NCAL’s Congressional Briefing is an opportunity for Members of Congress to hear directly from long term care providers about the real-world implications of legislative decisions made on Capitol Hill. 


June 5, 2024

Kristen Knapp, APR
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