Long-Term Care Advocacy Group Opposes Scrapping 'Certificate Of Need' Process

Mar 4, 2019

From left: Florida Health Care Association President Alex Terentev, Senior Director of Quality Affairs Deborah Franklin, Executive Director Emmett Reed, Chief Lobbyist Bob Asztalos and Director of Reimbursement Tom Parker discuss the group's legislative priorities for 2019 on March 4, 2019
Credit Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

The Florida Health Care Association is against a Florida House bill that would eliminate the “certificate of need” process for healthcare facilities. Currently nursing homes are among the facilities that must demonstrate sufficient need in a location before building a new site.

Bob Asztalos is the group’s chief lobbyist. On Monday, he joined its leadership team in outlining legislative priorities for the 2019 Session.

We want people with the lower acuity to receive their care in the home. We want to take care of the higher acuity resident, and we think that our certificate of need process allows for that to happen and keeps us balanced,” Asztalos told reporters.

The organization says it fears removing the process would result in unmanaged growth. Asztalos projects Florida’s nursing home-aged population will double by 2030. The FHCA says it would be neutral on the bill if nursing homes were removed from its language.

The advocacy group is also pushing the state legislature to keep last year’s Medicaid funding increase of $138 million. The group’s leadership says that money helps nursing homes hire additional caregivers. It also allows low-income patients to avoid paying out of pocket.

FHCA President Alex Terentev says he thinks Florida nursing homes have more unfilled positions than ever before.

We are not running like restaurant business; I cannot sell more desserts to increase my revenues. My only revenues, it’s 90-plus percent revenues, is government,” Terentev said. “It’s pretty much Medicaid and Medicare. That is why we’re asking to maintain our reimbursement.”

Also among the FHCA’s priorities for this Session is backing legislation that would increase the time nurses and other medical staff are mandated to spend with patients.