As reported on INYR, compromise in nursing home bill has been worked out

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As Ryan Wiggins reported on IN Your Head Radio, a compromise in nursing home bill has been worked out. The News Service of Florida reports that, hoping to avoid a politically volatile debate, a Senate committee Tuesday approved a compromise plan that would make changes in lawsuits against nursing homes.

The compromise, offered as an amendment to SB 670, has the backing of the Florida Health Care Association nursing-home group, the Florida Justice Association trial-lawyers group and the AARP senior-advocacy group. Among other things, it would shield “passive” nursing-home investors from liability stemming from injuries suffered by nursing-home residents; require judges to hold hearings to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to move forward with punitive-damage claims; and give power to the Agency for Health Care Administration to suspend nursing-home licenses, deny license renewals or prevent changes of ownership if homes do not pay legal judgments.

The Senate Health Policy Committee voted 8-1 to approve the proposal, with Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, the only dissenter. Joyner and other critics questioned whether the proposal addresses quality-of-care issues for nursing-home residents.

“I want more than what’s here,” Joyner said. But bill sponsor John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, said the compromise was designed to resolve legal issues, rather than quality of care. “If we feel strongly about that (addressing quality of care), let’s introduce a bill that does that,” Thrasher said. The bill also is slated to go to the Senate Judiciary and Rules committees before heading to the full Senate.