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AARP Florida asks Gov. DeSantis to veto a bill that changes nursing home staffing requirements

Senior woman sitting on the wheelchair alone
The bill reduces the amount of time certified nursing assistants must provide to nursing home patients each day.

Opponents of a bill that would change nursing-home staffing standards are ratcheting up efforts to convince Gov. Ron DeSantis to veto it.

Jamie Mongiovi, director of communications for AARP Florida, said members of the senior-advocacy group have been calling and emailing the governor’s office seeking a veto. “This legislation is simply going to put more pressure on the current (nursing home) staff to do more with less,” she said. “That is never a good formula for quality care.”

The House and Senate overwhelmingly passed the bill (HB 1239) during the legislative session that ended March 14. The most-controversial part of the bill involves certified nursing assistants, who provide much of the hands-on care in nursing homes.

Current law requires that certified nursing assistants provide a minimum of 2.5 hours of direct care per resident per day. The bill would reduce that to two hours. Also, current law requires that certified nursing assistants and licensed nurses provide a weekly average of 3.6 hours of direct care per patient per day. The bill would keep that 3.6-hour average, but it would allow time spent by other types of workers, such as physical therapists and occupational therapists, to be factored into the calculation.

Supporters of the bill have argued, in part, that it would provide more flexibility to nursing homes and help deal with staffing shortages. “If I really, really believed that this was going to injure a resident, my name would not be on this bill,” Senate sponsor Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula, said when the bill came up on the Senate floor early this month.

But opponents, including AARP, the state’s long-term care ombudsman and the Service Employees International Union, which represents nursing-home workers, have contended that it would lead to reduced care for residents, potentially leading to harm. The Legislature has not formally sent the bill to DeSantis.