nursing homes

Nurse escorts elderly man using walker
Wikimedia Commons

Per-person Medicare spending, much higher in Florida than all but one other state, has seen a dramatic increase in "post-acute" services -- nursing homes, home-health services, rehabilitation, and so on. And there is no rhyme or reason to the spending; patients who are much alike may be sent to nursing homes in one region, sent home in another. 

Nurse escorts elderly man using walker
Wikimedia Commons

Even as Florida nursing homes received an above-average score from a consumer group, questions continued to swirl around the departure of three of the leaders of the nursing home ombudsman program who had helped achieve the score. 

The Department of Elder Affairs, where the ombudsman program is housed, came in for sharp criticism in the past six weeks since it initiated an investigation of the ombudsman program's staff and volunteer leaders. The agency fired off a press release late last week defending itself against "an onslaught of negative press."

Even as the state fends off two federal lawsuits over its practice of placing disabled children in nursing homes, the facilities themselves are backing away from the profitable but controversial business. 

As the Miami Herald reports, Orlando Health & Rehabilitation is closing “Grandma’s House,” its 40-bed pediatric wing.

One of Gov. Rick Scott's first moves when he took office was to oust Brian Lee, a strong advocate for nursing-home patients who for seven years had headed the office of the Long-Term-Care Ombudsman. That was a big mistake, the Orlando Sentinel editorial board says. Another was Scott's choice to replace Lee -- a favorite of the industry, Harold Crochet.

Steven Martine / Florida Trend

Two separate profiles put a spotlight on two people who work in health care.

A South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial says that Florida is failing in its care for disabled children.  A lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice accused the state of not doing enough to care for disabled children, while the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration found the suit to be “disruptive.”  The editorial slams AHCA and other Florida agencies for the lack of options when it comes to caring for disabled children.

The Florida Agency For Health Care Administration says the Miami Herald got its facts wrong in an editorial on medically needy children and nursing homes. Health News Florida linked to the editorial. 

The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, saying Florida has not done enough to improve the plight of severely disabled children, filed suit against the state Monday, the Miami Herald reports. 

In a budget meeting that wrapped up at 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday, lawmakers struck deals on several items in a way that bypasses the regular committee process, the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau reports.  One of the measures is a new formula for billing counties for their share of Medicaid costs -- a decision that  has severe financial repercussions for hospitals. 

A Senate panel approved a measure that would block some people who have voluntarily gotten mental health treatment from purchasing a firearm, the News Service of Florida reports. The bill will go to the Senate floor for a vote next. 

Sarasota Herald-Tribune

The Senate Rules Committee will consider a measure Monday afternoon that would loosen government oversight of nursing home regulations and make it more difficult to sue owners and investors, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports.

The House Health and Human Services Committee had a dilemma when Rep. Matt Gaetz presented his trauma-center bill Tuesday. Members who represent rural areas, as well as some from suburbs, wanted to deregulate it, letting hospitals build Level 2 (Intermediate) trauma centers if they want to. But members who represent urban areas that already have trauma centers -- especially Level 1 centers like Jackson Memorial and Tampa General -- are afraid the suburban competitors would undermine their centers, financially and medically.

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a measure that would raise the bar higher for people seeking punitive damages from nursing homes, the Florida Times-Union reports.



In the wake of a CDC alarm about a drug-resistant bacteria called CRE, Florida nursing homes are gearing up to fight it. Since 2008, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports, health officials have investigated seven Florida outbreaks involving 285 people. CRE is believed responsible for a Broward outbreak responsible for 17 deaths. 

Palm Beach Post

A measure working its way through the Florida Legislature would make it more difficult to sue corporate executives, directors and other “decision-makers” when something goes wrong at their nursing homes, the Palm Beach Post reports. 

The Department of Children and Families says the Legislature needs to close loopholes in the law that allow financially stable nursing home patients to hide their assets and get Medicaid to foot the bill for their care, the Associated Press reports.  The state found more than 500 cases totaling $29 million in a six-year review.

When Harry Stewart died days after entering a Leesburg nursing facility, his daughter filed a wrongful-death suit against the facility.  She wanted the arbitration agreement Harry had signed upon entering thrown out. A lower court had backed the nursing home; now the Florida Supreme Court has ruled that the case should go to arbitration, rather than a jury trial, News Service of Florida reports.

Long-term care insurance was once a hot seller, but now that insurers are starting to pay for claims, premiums are going way up for women, the New York Times reports.

Federal health officials have given Florida permission to enroll elderly, sick Medicaid patients into private managed-care plans, Gov. Rick Scott’s office announced on Monday.

The three-year waiver of federal Medicaid rules can begin July 1, according to the letter from two officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, part of the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

Federal civil rights lawyers have hammered out a new proposal designed to overhaul the state’s system of care for severely disabled children. Meanwhile, AHCA continues to defend its placement of disabled children in nursing homes.

In an effort to keep diasbled foster children out of nursing home, DCF says it's looking for more medical foster homes.

After months of fighting the Justice Dept. on the issue, the state says its new policy will make it tougher to place disabled children in nursing homes.

Florida told the Justice Department it is not violating any laws in placing disabled children in nursing homes. The records in Marie Freyre's case and others tell quite a different story.

The state decided that Marie Freyre, a profoundly disabled child who lived with her mother in Tampa, had to be placed in a nursing home for her own safety. The state, it turns out, was wrong.