Emergency Rules Require Access To Long-Term Care Facilities

Aug 10, 2020

Saying that there have been “multiple instances" where long-term care providers have barred state health officials from entering facilities, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration Monday issued a pair of emergency rules making clear access isn’t optional.

One rule addresses the 693 licensed nursing homes in the state and the other applies to the 3,107 assisted living facilities.

In separate notices, the state Agency for Health Care Administration said the rules are necessary “to ensure the health, safety and welfare of residents and staff in Florida’s nursing homes.”

In addition to mandating that the facilities allow Department of Health officials into the buildings, the rules require facility staff members to comply with any COVID-19 testing offered by the Department of Health or its agents, which include the Agency for Health Care Administration.

The rules take effect immediately and replace a pair of emergency rules that the state issued May 12. They also come weeks after federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma announced that federal health officials were dispatching teams to facilities that were considered to be at high risk of COVID-19 spread and that Florida was one of six states that had been initially targeted.

The inspections are part of a larger plan by President Donald Trump’s administration to address seniors, including sending rapid COVID-19 test kits to nursing homes that are in viral hotspots or are considered at high risk of outbreaks.

The News Service of Florida reported that 70 percent of the state’s nursing homes are slated to receive the tests.