But a Herald investigation found Garcias proposal would have stripped critical enforcement tools from a state system that has allowed dozens of the worst facilities to stay open.
Ironically, the push to slash regulations started with an effort to bring about reforms.
The gruesome discovery of Ron Larsen, 85, who was ignored by caregivers in Manatee County as a cancerous tumor engulfed his face prompted GOP Sen. Ronda Storms of Valrico to push for the most sweeping changes in the ALF law in three decades.
But her effort to increase inspections, criminal background checks and penalties on bad homes in 2008 was not only defeated, it backfired, triggering the most intense effort in state history to cut back on oversight.
Over the next three years, key lawmakers, with the support of the Florida Assisted Living Association, introduced major legislation to strip regulations in place since the 1980s.
Just months after the Storms bill was rejected, FALA named Hugh Gibson the House sponsor who ended up killing the measure its legislator of the year before a packed audience at an industry convention in St. Augustine.
It was like a snowball, said Don Hering, former chair of the state ombudsman council, which opposed many of the industrys proposals. There was no way we could compete with these people. Its the money and the staying power.
While industry leaders were pouring hundreds of thousands into the coffers of key lawmakers more than $215,000 since 2007 the number of new bills affecting ALFs rose every year, records show.
In one of the first significant acts, the Legislature gave up its right in 2009 to see what was taking place in the homes. No longer were regulators required to provide lawmakers the number of adverse incidents like deaths and injuries information that can show dangerous trends.
Co-sponsored by Sen. Don Gaetz, the law also ended the states power to bring in medical teams to decide whether sick residents should be removed from homes failing to provide enough care, leaving the decision to ALF operators.
Over the next two years, hundreds of residents were found languishing in homes unable to provide for their needs, nearly twice the rate than before the protection was cut, The Herald found.
In one facility alone, three people died, including an elderly resident who fell 24 times and was hospitalized nine times for head wounds, broken ribs and two fractured hips.
A second resident, 82-year-old Charlene Webb, suffered fatal burns after falling for the fifth time on the floor and urinating on a power strip, causing electrical surges to rip through her body.
At no point during the residents stay at the Pasco County home did caregivers note they were in danger before they died. Karen Lucas, a company spokeswoman, said Emeritus at La Case Grande has since taken steps to resolve the problems, including increasing staff and training.
Gaetz said he was unaware of issues created by his bill and could not recall the portion that stripped the states right to call in medical teams. I just dont remember, said the GOP lawmaker from Destin, adding that AHCA had a major role in reviewing the language.
AHCA spokeswoman Shelisha Coleman said the agency rarely turned to the practice of calling doctors when residents were in danger, instead placing the burden on ALF owners.