Florida Senior Living Association to Legislators: Change Price Gouging Statute to Include Essential Health Care Staffing Services

November 4, 2021 — The Florida Senior Living Association (FSLA) has sent a letter to the Florida Legislature, Governor Ron DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis asking for an important update to the Florida law that criminalizes price gouging of essential goods during a declared state of emergency.

During the 16-month declared state of emergency that began last March, senior living communities and other health care facilities saw the costs charged by temporary staffing agencies skyrocket. To protect their residents and other staff members, communities often had no other choice but to pay the exorbitant rates to cover critical shifts.

“While the health and long-term care workforce is an obvious essential service during a pandemic, it is apparent that Florida’s price gouging statutes were not written with COVID-19 in mind. Unfortunately, this law may inadvertently fail to consider the anti-competitive practices currently running rampant throughout the temporary health care staffing industry,” wrote FSLA President & CEO Gail Matillo.

Florida law prohibits the renting or selling of essential commodities at unconscionable prices upon a declaration of a state of emergency by the Governor. Although a change in the statute will not retroactively address the concern raised by Florida Senior Living, the organization believes the request is important to prohibit anti-competitive behaviors that could arise during the next declared state of emergency.

For this reason, FSLA is also imploring lawmakers to examine the current recruitment and pricing practices being used by temporary staffing agencies and enact policies to discourage such agencies from taking advantage of the long-term and health care industries at a time when the industries have no other short-term options to seek remedies for staffing shortages.

“Staffing agencies are holding the entire health care industry hostage,” added Matillo, noting that while the behavior began at the start of the pandemic, it has continued and has only worsened. A copy of the letter is available at: https://bit.ly/3od3Kzx.

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