A bill limiting who can be named in lawsuits against nursing homes in cases of alleged abuse or neglect is now headed to Governor Rick Scott. If approved by Gov. Scott, the measure would end years of contention between the Florida Health Care Association and the Florida Justice Association.
The bill protects corporate investors from facing lawsuits from nursing home residents and their families. The Florida House approved the measure Wednesday.
Some elder care advocates had opposed the measure saying it puts the interests of investors over those of elders in long-term care facilities. Director of the non-profit Families for Better Care, Brian Lee, testified against the bill in the Senate. Lee calls the bill a “get out of jail free card” for corporate investors of nursing homes. “Residents would lose the ability to sue those corporate owners who fundamentally make the decision on how a nursing home is run, how budgets are set and how much is skimmed off for profit,” said Lee.
The Florida Health Care Association supports the bill. The nursing home industry advocacy group’s director Emmett Reed said the bill only protects investors who aren’t involved in the operation of long-term care facilities.
“If any investor is shown to have management responsibility, for instance, again the budgeting, the staffing, policies and procedures, hiring and firing the administrator or director of nursing, any of those entities will be able to be drawn into the lawsuit,” said Reed. “It does not protect them in that case.”
Under the bill, an attorney would have to get a judge’s approval to name an investor in an abuse lawsuit. The measure’s supporters include the AARP of Florida and the Florida Chamber of Commerce.