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Inspiration for “Lucy’s Law” Helping Nursing Center Residents Recognized by Legislators

Rep. Matt Gaetz & Sen. Don Gaetz Present Graceville Resident with Proclamation

December 7, 2015
Contact: Kristen Knapp, APR

CHIPLEY, FL – A Florida law that tripled the personal needs allowance for nursing center residents across the state is known as “Lucy’s Law.” This week the measure’s namesake received a proclamation from the Florida Legislature, presented by two of the lawmakers who helped enact the change.

Lucy Kennedy, who gave the legislators the idea when she served as Resident Council president at Signature HealthCARE of North Florida in Graceville, received the Senate/House proclamation from Sen. Don Gaetz and Rep. Matt Gaetz. The father-son pair of legislators visited Washington Rehabilitation Center in Chipley, where they met with residents and held a recognition ceremony for Kennedy on December 7.

“We took your idea, and Representative Gaetz convinced all 120 members of the House and I worked on the Senate, and we got the governor to sign it,” Kennedy was told by Sen. Gaetz, who was Senate President at the time the provision was adopted. Reading from the proclamation, he told Kennedy: “Nearly 50,000 Floridians living in nursing homes throughout our state owe (you) a debt of gratitude.”

“I thank you that the Legislature listened,” Kennedy told the lawmakers.

The state budget adopted by the Legislature in 2014 included an increase in the resident personal needs allowance, tripling the allocation from $35 to $105 per month. This increased funding provides greater choices to residents who rely on Medicaid as their long term care safety net, helping them to pay for personal items that improve their quality of life – things such as beauty services, clothing and other personal items.

“I’ve been able to see first-hand how the decisions we make in Tallahassee really impact the quality of care that we’re able to deliver at the bedside,” Rep. Gaetz said during his visit to Washington Rehabilitation Center, which is a member of Florida Health Care Association.

In addition to the brief ceremony for Kennedy, the legislators toured the center and met with numerous residents. “It was so empowering to our residents to be able to be able to meet the legislators who are actually making the decisions on how their lives are affected, what’s impacting their lives,” said Kathy Gallin, FHCA’s Legislative Committee Vice Chair and Director of Legislative Affairs for Signature HealthCARE.

Watch video of the Washington Rehabilitation tour below.

The 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 the Florida Health Care Association, visit

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