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Fate of nursing home generator requirement fuzzy

November 16, 2017

Hurricane Irma caused a lot of damage this year. It also resulted in a large controversy when eight residents of The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills nursing home died three days after the storm knocked out the A/C system. This incident led to Governor Rick Scott's desire to require nursing homes and assisted living facilities to be equipped with generators and enough fuel to be able to run air conditioning for at least 96 hours.

Florida's Nursing Home Generator Mandate

Despite the incident and despite Governor Scott's declaration, legislative leaders have yet to publicly support such a mandate. In fact, Senate President Joe Negron wouldn't directly answer a question concerning the mandate and whether the Senate would sign off on it when he appeared at the annual Associated Press event in the Capitol.

Instead, he supported the passing of something that "reaffirms the responsibility of a nursing home," adding that they would make sure that residents would be taken care of during any storm-related event that is 100 percent predictable and foreseeable in the state.

House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues took a similar stance in sidestepping the question of whether the House would support the mandate, saying only that the matter would be discussed. When asked whether the state should help to offset the costs of the generators should the mandate be supported, he answered that it would be something that members would have to figure out.

Rodrigues mentioned that a major concern amongst members regarding the matter was whether taxpayer money would be given to private companies to improve their bottom line and at the expense of their competitors as well as the public. The House has been attempting to decrease state business incentives over the past year, which is where the concern stems from.

Governor Scott not only wants the mandate to be supported and to go into effect but for the generator requirement to become permanent by having it put into state law. Following the deaths in the Broward County nursing home, Governor Scott had issued two emergency rules calling for the addition of generators to all nursing homes and assisted living facilities, rules that industry groups said were unrealistic given the 60-day timeframe.

As of now, it's unclear as to whether Governor Scott has the support needed to enforce the mandate, not to mention have it put into Florida state law.

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