Senate Could Sign Off On ALF Generator Requirement

Mar 2, 2018

The Florida Senate is going where the House won’t when it comes to generators. 

The Senate Rules Committee on Thursday agreed to introduce a bill (SB 7028) that would ratify a rule requiring assisted living facilities to have backup power sources. 

The measure would ratify a rule issued by Gov. Rick Scott’s administration after the deaths of residents of a sweltering Broward County nursing home following Hurricane Irma.

It would require each assisted living facility to acquire an alternative power source to ensure that temperatures can be maintained at 81 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler by June 1. Facilities with 16 beds or less would be required to store 48 hours of fuel on site, and facilities with 17 or more beds would have to store 72 hours of fuel onsite by June 1. 

The generator requirements would cost the nearly 3,000 assisted living facilities in the state about $243 million to come into compliance, according to state estimates. 

The House Health & Human Services Committee has not pursued ratifying the rule for assisted living facilities because of the steep price tag. 

Assisted living facilities are designed to provide services in a less-restrictive and more home-like environments than nursing homes. They range from one resident to several hundred residents and offer various types of personal and nursing services. 

The Senate Rules Committee also agreed Thursday to introduce a bill (SB 7030) that would ratify a rule requiring nursing homes to have backup power sources by June 1. That rule would require nursing homes to acquire by June 1 alternative power sources to ensure that temperatures can be maintained at 81 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler in sufficient portions of the facilities to accommodate all residents. 

The rule also would require each facility to implement certain policies and procedures to ensure that residents do not suffer complications from heat exposure. The Agency for Health Care Administration determined that the likely aggregate cost for nursing homes to comply with the rule would be more than $125 million. But nursing homes would be able to offset costs with Medicaid funds, an option that isn’t available to ALFs.

While the House hasn’t moved forward with legislation to ratify the ALF rule, a proposal (HB 7099) to ratify the nursing-home rule is slated to be considered Friday on the House floor.

Scott’s administration has pushed for generators at ALFs and nursing homes since the deaths in September of residents of The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, a Broward County nursing home that lost its air-conditioning system in Hurricane Irma.

Legislative ratification of the rules is required because of the high costs, and ratification has been a top priority of the Scott administration this session.