Dudek: Nursing Home Push May Spur Suits

Nov 20, 2014

There’s a shortage of nursing home beds in Florida, and companies are flooding the state with applications to build. With hundreds of millions of dollars on the line, courts may have to sort out the winners and losers.

It’s been 13 years since the Florida Legislature put a hold on building new nursing home beds because of rising costs in the state budget.

Liz Dudek, Secretary of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration
Credit Agency for Health Care Administration

That moratorium expired this year, and 163 companies are competing to build more 3,100 new nursing home beds in Florida.

Competition will be fierce: The new beds mean the possibility of more than $285 million in revenue statewide.

Florida Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Elizabeth Dudek said it’s the most applications the state has seen in one cycle since the 1990s.

  “I am guessing that with this kind of volume there will be some potential litigation involved, which would tie things up for a little bit,” Dudek said.

The state will make its decision in February, and it would likely take two to three years to build the new nursing homes.

Brian Lee, executive director of nursing home watchdog group Families for Better Care, said more competition is better for consumers.

“More nursing homes in the marketplace with more specialized modernized services will force the rest the nursing homes to do a better job,” Lee said. “Again, there’s no more living off their laurels in quality of care.”

An estimated 72,000 residents use nursing homes in Florida every year. One year in a private nursing home room in Orlando costs about $90,000, and government sources of revenue typically make up 80 percent of the money coming into a nursing home.

Union County in North Florida could get its first nursing home through this process.

Abe Aboraya is a reporter for WMFE in Orlando.