A Senate committee Tuesday gave swift approval to a bill that is being criticized by elder-care advocates as a “sweetheart deal” designed to help nursing homes and trial lawyers make money but do little to improve the quality of care for the homes’ residents.
“This benefits elders as well as their loved ones,” said Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, who is sponsoring the bill. He said shielding nursing homes from lawsuits provides them with “extra economic protection so they can stay in business,” which is good for residents.
But Brian Lee, executive director of the Florida Family Care Association, who was the state’s elder-care ombudsman for eight years, said the bill was less about protecting elders and more about protecting profits.
“Does keeping the industry viable mean protecting the people who cut back staff levels, who demand that their residents curb food costs and say they can only have one diaper per resident every eight hours?” he said. “That’s ridiculous.”
The measure ends years of feuding between the Florida Health Care Association — which represents nursing homes — and the Florida Justice Association, which represents trial lawyers. Both are major campaign contributors in Tallahassee. The bill also has the support of AARP and the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
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Advocates Say Senate Nursing Home Bill Benefits Industry and Trial Lawyers - not Patients