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Hospice Seeks Stay In Dispute With AHCA

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Associated Press
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Warning of potentially "devastating consequences," a Central Florida hospice firm Monday sought a stay from the 1st District Court of Appeal in a dispute with the Agency for Health Care Administration about the firm's license.

Compassionate Care Hospice of Central Florida Inc., which serves patients in Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties, was notified March 9 that its license had expired and that it would have to cease operations in the area.

Compassionate Care is not a free-standing Hospice facility. It provides services to terminally-ill patients in other facilities and at home. 

That has touched off a flurry of legal activity, with the hospice contending that it submitted a renewal application by a Feb. 21 deadline.

In the filing Monday, the hospice said it is seeking a stay while it pursues a challenge to AHCA's decision. AHCA denied such a stay.

"The controversy is solely about alleged failure to timely file a renewal form,'' the filing said. "AHCA has ordered CCH (the hospice) to stop providing care to its patients solely as a result of a paperwork dispute; there is no indication of any dispute over the quality of care CCH has provided to hospice patients that would lead AHCA to seek closure of CCH."

But in denying the stay last week, AHCA said the hospice's license "expired by operation of law through its own inaction. The agency took no affirmative action to cause petitioner's license to expire. It merely notified petitioner of its licensure expiration as a courtesy."

The hospice, which has continued to serve patients, also has filed a case in Polk County circuit court.