February 10, 2022 – LeadingAge Florida President and CEO Steve Bahmer provided testimony today at the Senate Committee on Health Policy in support of Senator Albritton’s SB 804 – Modernization of Nursing Home Facility Staffing. Earlier this week companion bill HB 1239 sponsored by Representative Melo passed the House Finance & Facilities Subcommittee.

Following today’s Committee hearing, LeadingAge Florida released a statement that can be attributed to President and CEO Steve Bahmer.

“The workforce shortage in long-term care is an ongoing challenge that has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our providers are exploring every possible avenue to recruit, train and retain qualified healthcare personnel, but the reality is that there is a scarcity in the long-term care workforce.

Furthermore, the care residents in our member communities require has evolved over the years and now often includes the need for specialized care. Care that is already being provided by current staff.

Unfortunately, the state’s staffing requirements do not account for all of the hard-working and qualified individuals who currently provide this care to residents every day. And as a result, providers are having to reduce the number of available beds, which limits Florida seniors’ access to high-quality care.

The workforce crisis is a complex and multi-faceted problem that is going to require an equally complex set of solutions in the long-term. In the short term, rethinking the definition of direct care staff is one solution that will reopen beds and ensure Florida’s seniors have access to the high-quality care they need.

We also believe it needs to be supported by a funding approach that truly and sufficiently prioritizes direct care so providers have the resources they need to invest in the people who deliver that care. To ensure that the funds are used as intended by the legislature, any rate increase for Medicaid reimbursement should be allocated to the direct patient care component within the prospective payment system.

We appreciate Senator Albritton and Representative Melo’s leadership and recognition of this issue and we look forward to continue working closely together on this legislation.”

For nearly 60 years, LeadingAge Florida has been the state’s leading advocate for high-quality senior living, aging services and care. We are the only statewide association representing the full continuum of care for seniors. The Association provides up-to-date regulatory information, a wide variety of educational opportunities, representation before the Legislature and government agencies, group purchasing services, and opportunities for networking with peers to help member communities best serve the needs of Florida’s senior population.