Members of the Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) today provided members of the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) with invaluable information and insights to help preserve a crucial policy affecting the care of Florida’s most frail residents. In presentations to a CRC panel, FHCA speakers detailed why nursing centers should be removed from any repeal of the Certificate of Need process.
FHCA, Florida’s largest advocacy organization representing 82% of Florida nursing centers and the elderly they serve, told the CRC General Provisions Committee that both the quality of care for the state’s seniors and the health of the nursing centers that care for them could be significantly impacted by a proposal under consideration. The association is advocating for an exemption for nursing homes from a proposed Constitutional Amendment (Proposal 54) that would eliminate the Certificate of Need (CON) process for all health care facilities.
“Repealing nursing home Certificate of Need will most certainly result in unmanaged growth, low occupancy rates, inefficiencies in how buildings operate, and a reduction in the value of our state’s nursing centers. All of this will greatly impact how quality care is provided to our state’s seniors,” Brian Perry of HCR ManorCare, which operates 29 nursing centers in Florida, told members of the committee.
“CON repeal has affected elder care in other states,” Perry noted. “For example, Texas operates twice as many nursing centers as Florida but is plagued by facilities that have beds that remain empty and deliver a poor quality of care. Indiana was forced to impose a moratorium on building nursing centers due to unmanaged growth 16 years after it repealed its CON process.”
Jeff Marshall of Omega Healthcare Investors, a real estate investment trust with the nation’s largest portfolio of nursing home investments, told committee members that limiting the supply of nursing home beds to meet demand through the CON process represents a very important element of stabilizing nursing home value, encouraging both initial investment and subsequent reinvestment to enhance quality of care and environment for residents.
“Elimination of the nursing home CON process would ultimately lead to the unintended consequence of reduced access to nursing home care for Floridians covered by Medicaid,” said Marshall. “As newly built nursing homes focus on admitting profitable Medicare, insurance, and private-pay patients to cover construction costs, Medicaid residents will increasingly be restricted to older nursing homes. Those facilities that serve the highest percentage of Medicaid residents will suffer the most upon elimination of the CON process – not a desirable outcome.”
FHCA speakers also noted that by promoting an environment in which new nursing centers would have to lure elders to fill costly beds, repeal of CON for nursing centers would run contrary to Florida’s long-standing commitment to enabling elders to remain in their homes or in community-based care for as long as possible.
“Florida has attained a system that strikes the right balance. Those who can be cared for in a home and community-based setting are receiving it there – and those who come to my nursing center and others around the state do so because that is the only place they can safely receive the more specialized care they need,” said Joe Mitchell, CEO of mid-size nursing center operator Summit Care.
More information on how the Certificate of Need issue may affect the care of Floridians in skilled nursing centers can be found at cqrcengage.com/ahcafl/CONProcess.