Legislation sponsored by Senator Bobby Powell (D-West Palm Beach) created as a life-saving and cost-effective measure for critically ill children, unanimously passed the Florida Senate Health Policy Committee on Thursday.
SB414, the “Family Caregiver Certified Nursing Assistant Program” would require the state Board of Nursing in conjunction with the Agency for Health Care Administration to develop a program to train and certify designated family caregivers as certified nursing assistants.
“This bill allows family members to obtain the critical, supervised training they need to step up for their children, and step in where the government falters,” said Senator Powell.
The legislation was inspired by the plight of Richard and Kim Muszynski, whose daughter Abagayle was born with a rare genetic disorder requiring full-time care Florida Medicaid routinely denied or balked at providing.
Forced to flee to Colorado in order to obtain the critical medical care needed to keep their daughter alive, the Muszymski’s discovered a program allowing family members to train and certify family caregivers as certified nursing assistants. Similar programs are in effect in Missouri, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and now under discussion in Arizona.
Under SB 414, such a program would require 84 hours of mandatory training, and the family member would be obligated to serve under contract with a licensed nurse registry for a minimum of two years.
The addition of certified family member nursing assistants would not only fill a void patients such as the Muszynski’s daughter face in Florida, but ease the severe shortage in the healthcare workforce, especially with nurses and CNAs, Senator Powell noted.
“This bill not only saves lives, it saves taxpayer money,” said Senator Powell. “It’s an opportunity to create additional career paths and improve the quality of life for Florida’s families while alleviating some of the strain on government programs providing home health services. It’s a major win by any definition.”
Identical legislation, HB 209, is sponsored in the House by Representative David Silvers. In the Senate, SB 414 next heads to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services.