Many nursing homes, assisted living facilities still can’t meet Florida’s mandate for backup power

Just weeks before another hurricane season, large numbers of Florida nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the storm-battered state continue to struggle to meet requirements that they have backup power generator to keep facilities cool.

State records show that 89 long-term care facilities have told Florida officials in the last month that they won’t have generators by June 1 — which is when the six-month hurricane season kicks off. Some forecasters have predicted it could be a normal hurricane season resulting in as many as two to four major hurricanes.

The Agency for Health Care Administration has posted information that says 35 percent of the 684 nursing homes across the state have installed generators as required by rules that were put in place at the urging of former Gov. Rick Scott.

The remaining 444 nursing homes have submitted requests for “variances” from the rules, which required them to have generators on site and access to 96 hours of fuel by June 1, 2018.

Scott issued a pair of emergency rules requiring nursing homes and assisted living facilities to have backup generators in the wake of the deaths of 12 residents of The Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills. The residents died following Hurricane Irma, which knocked out the Broward County facility’s air-conditioning system.

The emergency rules gave long-term care facilities two months to have generators installed on site and 96 hours of fuel to power the generators.

After legal wrangling between industry groups and the Scott administration, the two sides reached an accord in 2018 that required backup generators by Jan. 1 but included a process that nursing homes and assisted living facilities could follow to be considered in compliance.

State economists estimated that the mandate would cost nursing home operators $121.3 million over the first five years, about $66 million of which would be offset by taxpayers through Medicaid. The tab for assisted living facilities was estimated to be $243 million. Because assisted living facilities generally don’t house Medicaid-funded patients, those costs wouldn’t be offset by taxpayers.

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