At least 21 more long-term care providers have filed requests for variances with the state Agency for Health Care Administration as they seek additional time to comply with Gov Rick Scott's mandate that they add generators that can power air-conditioning systems.
The latest requests were published Monday in the Florida Administrative Register and are in addition to 33 requests for variances published last week. Scott's administration issued emergency generator rules in September for nursing homes and assisted living facilities after eight residents of a sweltering Broward County nursing home died.
Six more residents died later after being evacuated.
Hurricane Irma knocked out the air conditioning at the nursing home, The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, which did not have a backup generator for the cooling system.
Long-term care facilities are seeking the variances because a Nov. 15 compliance deadline is nearing, and facilities that aren't in compliance face steep penalties, including possible license revocation. Florida law allows variances, saying that the “strict application of uniformly applicable rule requirements can lead to unreasonable, unfair, and unintended results” and, as a result, agencies are authorized to grant variances and waivers to rules that cause a substantial hardship.
To clarify the process, the Scott administration last week issued another emergency rule that, in part, laid out information the Agency for Health Care Administration wants providers to include in the requests for variances. Meanwhile, three industry groups have challenged the rules in the state Division of Administrative Hearings. A judge is expected to issue a decision within two weeks.