‘We’re always looking to improve our care’


We all want our loved ones to get the very best care when they no longer can live on their own and instead need the care that only a nursing home can provide.

This year, Florida has the opportunity to pass legislation that helps accomplish just that. The Legislature is considering a new law that would protect resources needed for resident care by making responsible reforms to legal rules involving nursing-home lawsuits.

An independent study shows that nursing-home claims and liability costs are on the rise, costing facilities an estimated $5,400 per bed this year. Combine that with Medicaid underfunding nursing-home care by almost $500,000 per facility each year, and it’s even more important for the Legislature to reform this broken system.

Providing quality, complex nursing-home care requires resources. Residents are far better off when facilities have enough resources to provide important services or make improvements that will enhance quality of life.

This legislation is the result of an historic agreement reached by nursing homes, trial attorneys and AARP. Under the legislation, nursing homes would still be held accountable — and penalized — if they provide substandard care. Nursing-home residents would still be able to pursue lawsuits against those directly at fault, but with reasonable limits on who could be sued.

Sponsored by Sen. John Thrasher and Rep. Matt Gaetz, the proposal would:

• Ensure that residents can pursue lawsuits against those directly at fault, while preventing claims against those who have nothing to do with daily care decisions, such as banks or creditors. It’s important to note that if the role of those uninvolved players shifts and they become active decision-makers regarding things like staffing, budgets, policies and procedures, the legislation is clear that they can be held liable;

• Ensure that a punitive damage claim is based on evidence, not hearsay, and is driven by the merits of the case;

• Establish a workable framework for providing appropriate medical records to family members;

• Ensure that legitimate awards are paid by revoking the license of any nursing-home operator who doesn’t pay a final judgment, arbitration award or settlement. It also prevents the operator from transferring that license to any related party during the judgment process.

Unfortunately, the so-called Families for Better Care organization continues to fight the legislation and chronically misrepresents the facts about tremendous strides nursing homes continue to make in quality care. Instead of joining the effort to forge an agreement to benefit seniors, the group instead shamefully works to scare seniors.

Try as they might to unforgivably tarnish the reputation of Florida’s nursing homes and thousands of caregivers, the facts tell a different story.

Florida ranks second in the nation in the number of five-star rated nursing facilities, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Facilities continue to staff well above the national average, with individuals receiving more time with nurses on a daily basis. Customer satisfaction remains high and facilities are focused on providing residents with a more person-centered experience.

Of course, that doesn’t mean Florida’s nursing homes can be complacent. We’re always looking to improve our care. When a nursing home falls short, it should be held accountable. That doesn’t change under this proposal.

This legislation is about protecting the quality of care at nursing homes without sacrificing accountability. It properly safeguards the interests of nursing home residents, while allowing Florida’s many outstanding facilities to continue providing a high level of care without fear of excessive litigation.

With this legislation, we can all move forward toward better care for those most in need of our services. Our loved ones deserve no less.

Emmett Reed is executive director of Florida Health Care Association.

Read more Other Views stories from the Miami Herald

Tony Lesesne


    Tony Lesesne: Overkill, and an apology

    Yes, it happens in South Florida, too — and it shouldn’t. Black men pulled over, needlessly hassled by police officers who give the rest of their colleagues a bad name, who make no distinction when a suspect has no other description than ‘black male,’ who harass residents because they can. A North Miami Beach officer pulls over a black man in a suit and tie — and behind the wheel of an Audi that simply had to be stolen, right? In another Miami-Dade city, an officer demands that an African-American man installing a vegetable garden justify why he has a shovel and seedlings. Detained for possession of cilantro? Here are five South Floridians who tell of their experiences in this community and beyond, years ago, and all too recently.

Delrish Moss


    Delrish Moss: Out after dark

    “I was walking up Seventh Avenue, just shy of 14th street. I was about 17 and going home from my job. I worked at Biscayne Federal Bank after school. The bank had a kitchen, and I washed the dishes. A police officer gets out of his car. He didn’t say anything. He came up and pushed me against a wall, frisked me, then asked what I was doing walking over here after dark. Then he got into his car and left. I never got a chance to respond. I remember standing there feeling like my dignity had been taken with no explanation. I would have felt better about that incident had I gotten some sort of dialogue. I had not had any encounters with police.


    Bill Diggs: Hurt officer’s feelings

    “I’m the first generation in my family to go to college, and if I wanted to do nothing else, I wanted to make my mom happy. I was living for my parents, I wanted to be that guy, I wanted to go to work and not have to put on steel-toe boots. And here I am in Atlanta, I have finally grown to a particular level of affluence. I wasn’t making a lot of money, but I was a college kid, wearing a suit, driving a nice BMW going to work everyday. Can’t beat that. I would leave my house, drive up Highway 78, the Stone Mountain area, grab some coffee, go to work. So on this particular morning, there’s a cop who’s rustling up this homeless guy outside the gas station where I was filling up. I’m shaking my head, the cop looks at me. This homeless guy is there every morning. I get in my car and on to the expressway. The police officer comes shooting up behind me. I doing 65, 70. He gets up behind me, I notice he’s following me. I get in one lane, he gets in the lane, I get in another lane, he gets in that lane. He finally flips his lights on, he comes up to the car. I’ve been pulled over for speeding before, I know the drill. Got my hands up here, don’t want to get shot, and I think he’s going to say what I’ve heard before: ‘License and registration, please.’ He says ‘Get out of the car!’ and he reaches in and grabs me by my shirt. He says, ‘So you’re a smart ass, huh?’ Finally he says, ‘License and registration.’ I tell him it’s in the car. He says, ‘Get it for me!’ He goes back to his car, comes back and asks, ‘So where did you get the car from?’ I say ‘It’s a friend of mine’s.” He says, ‘Is it stolen? What are you doing driving your friend’s car?’ I finally asked, ‘Is there a reason you stopped me? You followed me, what’s up, man?’ He says, ‘I’m going to let you go with a warning, but if you see me doing what I’ve got to do for my job, don’t you ever f---ing worry about it.”

Miami Herald

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