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Autopsy of ALF Reform

While Florida legislative leaders identified reform of the assisted-living industry as a priority, the ALF package failed for a third year, the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau reports (paywall alert). Why?

The Florida Senate unanimously passed its bill (SB 248) early in the session. The House version (HB 573) got held up under heavy lobbying by the industry, according to Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville.

Gaetz criticized both the industry and House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel. “Speaker Weatherford gave me his commitment they would try to do this,” Gaetz told the Times/Herald. “The ALF industry lobbied very hard against reforms. They lost a lot of credibility. It’s a real shame.”

Gaetz said after the House “picked apart” the bill, the Senate attached it to several others that had high priority in the House. But in retaliation, the House attached new language to the ALF reform bill the Senate couldn’t accept, the Times/Herald reports.

The Senate gagged on the addition of an amendment that would have allowed ambulatory surgery centers to keep patients overnight -- in some versions, up to three days -- leaving hospitals to wonder whether they would take a major financial hit, the Times/Herald reports.

The session ended with no compromise. Speaker Weatherford told the Times/Herald, “we just weren’t able to get agreement.”

Next year, Gaetz said he personally will help push the bill through, the Times/Herald reports. House sponsor Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, said it’s important to get agreement and passage early in the session.

More than 80,000 Floridians are housed in ALFs, necessitating additional oversight and getting rid of the industry’s “bad apples,” an AARP leader told the Times/Herald.

The push for ALF reform grew out of a 2011 Miami Herald series, “Neglected to Death.”

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.