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Legislature To Create Task Force To Hammer Out New Nursing Home Funding Plan

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Some nursing home representatives are cheering the delay of a state legislative proposal that would have changed how Medicaid funds flow to assisted living facilities in Florida.

Right now, facilities bill the state for care and are reimbursed. The plan would allott the homes a flat rate.

Jacksonville’s River Garden Hebrew Home CEO Marty Goetz said the flat rate would have resulted in some high-performing homes — like his — losing tens of millions of dollars between them. And he said the money would have been able to be spent on anything.

“If this plan included strong provisions that the money that these nursing homes were going to now be receiving had to be spent on care, on auditable patient care, you would’ve found a much different response from River Garden Hebrew Home,” he said.

The House originally rejected the Senate-backed plan, but during the final moments of this year’s legislative session that ended Monday, both chambers agreed to move forward with the plan and added a year-long delay. A state workgroup is also being convened to workshop changes for nursing homes this summer.

The task force will be made up of legislators and representatives of the state Agency for Health Care Administration, the Florida Health Care Association and Leading Age Florida.

The FHCA, who represents 80 percent of nursing homes in the state, has long advocated for the plan as a fairer funding formula for everyone.

Leading Age Florida represents the remaining nursing homes not under the FHCA umbrella. CEO Steve Bahmer praised the delay of a plan he argued would’ve penalized more highly-rated facilities in favor of windfall profits for a small group of facilities.

“We now have several months to work with stakeholders to fix the many flaws in that plan and create an equitable model before the Legislature convenes again in 2018,” he said.

Reporter Ryan Benk can be reached at, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter @RyanMichaelBenk.

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.