Author: sandi

2022 Session: Interim Committee Recap

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Last week the Florida Legislature completed its sixth and final interim committee week before the 2022 Legislative Session. Speculation is that the 2022 Legislation Session will likely be a “do no harm” type of session, with the majority of bandwidth focused on the every-ten-years-task of redistricting as well as the budget.
Despite the expected lower volume of activity this Session, FSLA is actively engaged and advocating for our member’s priority interests this Session:
  • Extending the COVID-19 limitation of liability sunset until June 1, 2023.
  • Pursuing policy changes and available funding opportunities to address long-term care workforce issues.
  • Advocating that health care staffing rates to be subject to Florida’s price gouging statutes during declared states of emergency.
  • Advocating for policy changes to deter staffing agencies from taking undo advantage of ALFs who are struggling to find and retain staff.
  • Reviewing staff training needs for Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.
  • Educating the legislature regarding ever increasing liability insurance premiums and the need to reduce meritless claims.
Florida’s 2022 Legislative Session will convene on January 11, 2022, with sine die expected on March 11, 2022. Stay tuned to FSLA for session updates!

INTERIM COMMITTEE WEEK 1: SEPTEMBER 20-24
As is customary during the first committee week, this week consisted of various committees receiving updates on implementation of previous years laws and updates of legislative budget requests (LBR). Key events include:
  • The House Health & Human Services Committee held a workshop on hospital care innovation, hearing from Advent Health and the Mayo Clinic.
  • The House Pandemics & Public Emergencies Committee received an update from the Florida hospital system.
  • The House Finance & Facilities Subcommittee received AHCA implementation update on Personal Care Attendants, HB 485 by Rep. Garrison (2021).
  • The Senate Banking & Insurance Committee heard a presentation on the Florida Insurance Market from David Altmaier, Commissioner of the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.

INTERIM COMMITTEE WEEK 2: OCTOBER 11-15
The Legislature’s second interim committee week consisted, in part, of:
  • The House Pandemics & Public Emergencies Committee received a presentation from Willis Towers Watson on risk management strategies for Florida.
  • The House Insurance & Banking Committee received a presentation from Citizen Property Insurance regarding the state of the property insurance marketplace in Florida.
  • The House Secondary Education & Career Development Subcommittee had a panel discussion on Florida’s registered apprenticeship and pre-apprecenticeship training programs.
  • The Senate Health Policy Committee had an update on Covid-19 status and mitigation efforts by the Department of Health and Agency for Health Care Administration.

INTERIM COMMITTEE WEEK 3: OCTOBER 18-22
Interim Committee Week number 3 was the first back-to-back committee week for the Legislature this year. Key highlights included:
  • The Senate Banking & Insurance Committee heard presentations on the Florida Property Insurance Market from Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, Doug Croley Insurance Services, and Florida Peninsula Insurance Company.
  • The House Health & Human Services Committee held a panel discussion on Health Care Staffing from the Florida Association of Community Health Centers, Florida Hospital Association, and Southern Health Care Management.
  • The House Finance & Facilities Subcommittee received an implementation update from the Agency for Health Care Administration on the Prescription Drug Importation Program.
  • The Department of Economic Opportunity provided a release on employment data.

INTERIM COMMITTEE WEEK 4: NOVEMBER 1-5
After passing the midway point in interim committee weeks, the Florida Legislature kicked off the fourth interim committee week with:
  • The House Judiciary Committee held a presentation on the calculation and admissibility of damages in tort cases.
  • The Senate Health Policy Committee received an implementation update from the Agency for Health Care Administration on the prescription drug importation program, HB 19 by Rep. Leek (2019), and heard proposed legislation on health care expenses, SB 296 by Sen. Garcia, and telehealth, SB 312 by Sen. Diaz.
  • The House Finance & Facilities Subcommittee received a briefing from the Agency for Health Care Administration on Medicaid Quality Measures and Outcomes.
  • The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services received a presentation on the American Rescue Plan’s Enhanced Federal Share to Supplement Home and Community Based Services by the Agency for Health Care Administration.

INTERIM WEEK 5 & SPECIAL SESSION 2021B: NOVEMBER 15-19
In response to Governor DeSantis’ call, the Florida Legislature held a special session on employee protections from vaccine mandates. Ultimately, the Legislature passed and the Governor immediately signed the following four bills:
  • HB 1B, prohibiting private employers from imposing Covid-19 vaccination mandates unless specific exemptions are provided;
  • HB 3B, creating public records exemptions for employee complaints against an employer’s illegal Covid-19 vaccination policies;
  • HB 5B, taking the initial step of withdrawing Florida from OSHA and replacing it with a state program; and
  • HB 7B, repealing the Surgeon General’s power to mandate vaccinations.
Subsequently, the Department of Health and Department of Economic Opportunity published the following emergency rules:
  • 64DER21-17, Standards and Forms For Exemption from Private Employer Covid-19 Vaccination Requirements
  • 64ER21-18, Penalties for Public Employee Covid-19 Vaccine Mandates
  • 63D-3.049, Protocols for Controlling Covid-19 in School Settings
  • 73BER21-1, Determinations Regarding Discharges for Noncompliance with a Covid-19 Vaccine Mandate, and
  • 73BER21-2, Determinations Regarding Suitable Work Requiring Compliance with a Covid-19 vaccination Mandate.
You can find a comprehensive summary of the special session here, courtesy of our friends at Southern Group!

INTERIM COMMITTEE WEEK 6: NOVEMBER 29-DECEMBER 3
In the final interim committee week, the theme shifted from implementation updates to hearing proposed bills. Key activities included:
  • Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of an extension of Covid-19-related claims against health care providers, SB 7014 by Judiciary and Sen. Burgess. Jason Hand, FSLA’s Vice President of Public Policy & Legal Affairs, and Robin Khanal partner with Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., were the only two people to speak in favor of this necessary legislation. You can read more about this legislation from the Florida Phoenix and our partners at Southern Group.
  • The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee heard a panel presentation on Florida’s hospital and nursing home health.
  • The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health & Human Services heard a presentation by the Agency for Health Care Association on Medicaid Rate Setting.
  • The House Finance & Facilities Subcommittee heard proposed legislation on patient care in health care facilities, HB 469 by Rep. Trabulsy.

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.

2021 Conference Resources – Best Spots for Bookworms

Some of us start looking for the best Independent bookstores as soon as we get to a new town. Just in case you’re a fellow bookworm, we’ve compiled a shortlist of some of Tampa’s best Indie bookstores.

Oxford Exchange
420 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa
7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Monday-Friday; 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Saturday-Sunday

Near downtown Tampa, the bookstore provides a rare and engaging browsing experience, with a distinctive presentation that gives each book cover the attention it deserves. The carefully curated collection — including new releases, bestsellers, beloved classics, signed first editions, and children’s favorites — is intended to satisfy the casual browser as well as an avid collector. The location also features a restaurant, a coffee and tea bar,  and a gift shop.

Mojo Books & Records
2540 E Fowler Ave., Tampa
11am – 8pm, Monday-Saturday and 11am-7pm Sunday

Mojo Books and Records is Tampa Bay’s largest independent book and record store. It’s also one of the few local coffee bars specializing in manual brewing and handcrafted flavors.

Tombolo Books
2153 1st Ave S, St. Petersburg
10 a.m. – 7 p.m., Monday-Friday; 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Saturday-Sunday

Tombolo Books features all genres, from biography/memoir and science, to gardening, cooking, poetry, and fiction. The store also offers an expansive children’s section with a cozy reading nook for parents and children to enjoy during their visit. Customers will also find a healthy selection of books, both fiction and non-fiction, by Florida authors and about the state of Florida.

Book + Bottle
17 6th St. N, St. Petersburg
8 a.m. – 6 p.m., Tuesday; 8 a.m. – 9 p.m., Wednesday-Friday; 10 a.m. – 9 p.m., Saturday; 12 p.m. – 8 p.m., Sunday

A bookstore with wine and a wine bar with books. Book + Bottle curates the best in literary fiction, new releases, celebrity bookclub picks, bestsellers, and other mind-opening reading material.  It also has small sections dedicated to the environment, cooking, wine, local lit, and Russian lit.

Wilson’s Book World
535 16th St. N, St. Petersburg
10 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday-Saturday

A family owned and operated, used and antiquarian bookshop in St. Petersburg, Wilson’s is one of the Southeastern United States’ oldest bookstores still in operation. The store maintains a consistent, on shelf inventory of over 250,000 hard covers, paperbacks, comics, manuscripts, and ephemera.

2021 Conference Resources – Game On with the 80s!

This year’s Conference Fun Night is a party like you’ve never seen before… or at least haven’t seen in more than 30 years! Join us for a totally bodacious night of classic 80s tunes, entertainment, arcade games and more. Costumes are strongly encouraged, but if you find yourself in Tampa without a radical outfit, don’t feel like a wastoid. Take a chill pill and check out these local secondhand stores; maybe you’ll find something totally tubular!

  • Valhalla Resale – Recently featured on the Red Carpet at the Gasparilla International Film Festival! Check out their Insta for more info.
  • Uptown Cheapskate – Offers low prices on new and second-hand clothes, shoes, handbags, and jewelry from your favorite brands and designers. Check out their Insta for more info.
  • LabelSwap – More than 4,000 square feet with 1,345 brands; 1,267 of them are MARKED DOWN. Check out their Insta for more info.
  • The Spring Thrift Store – When you buy from one of The Spring thrift stores, 100% of the net proceeds support the Tampa domestic violence emergency shelter, outreach services and other programming. Now open for shopping on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday only. The Spring Boutique is now open for shopping on Wednesday and Friday only. Check out their Facebook for more info.
  • Frolic Exchange – Vintage and Handmade Clothing Design. Check out their Insta for more info.

Need a little inspiration? Check out this list of style icons from the 1980s. We can’t wait to see what you bring to the party!

2021 Conference Resources – Health & Wellness

This year, we’re excited to offer special opportunities for conference attendees to focus on their health and wellness. As additional programs are added, we’ll update everyone!

Morning Runs

Join us on Thursday and Friday mornings for a group run down iconic Bayshore Blvd. Run groups will meet at 6:30am in the hotel lobby for a 3-mile loop. The first 75 runners will receive a conference t-shirt!

Click here to reserve your spot.


Morning Yoga

Join us on Thursday and Friday mornings for sunrise yoga by the pool! Each morning at 6:30am, join us for a 30-minute stretch and flow class, led by Jessica Lynne Trese, an authorized Ashtanga Teacher and Reiki Master. Bring your own mat or a pool towel and enjoy!

Click here to register your interest.


Additional Options

Enjoy the JW Marriott Tampa Water Street’s fitness center and pool.

Runners may enjoy these routes mapped throughout the Tampa area.

Feel like dropping in on a fitness class while you’re in town? Check out these Tampa fitness studios on ClassPass.

Can’t make our morning yoga classes, but still need to stretch? In addition to Bella Prana Yoga who assisted us with scheduling our own yoga instructor, these Tampa yoga studios are on ClassPass.

Left home without your favorite fitness equipment? These running stores are highly recommended by the Tampa running community:

  • Running Center – Established in 1999 with a location north of downtown Tampa. The store prides itself on its skillful gait analysis and customer service.
  • Feet First – Located just a few blocks from the Bayshore Linear Park Trail in Tampa. Good selection of shoes, apparel and gear; very knowledgeable staff.
  • Fit2Run – Family-owned running specialty chain; Tampa store located near International Airport and features a fitness bar for healthy nutrition. Offers video-taped gait analysis, good selection of products and weekly group runs.
  • New Balance – Two locations in Tampa, one near the International Airport and the other ~10 miles north from downtown.

FSLA Establishes Justin Paul Brown Memorial Scholarship for Senior Living

Apply for the 2022 Scholarship!

Justin Paul Brown, a long-serving board member of the Florida Senior Living Association, spent his career serving seniors and fostering growth of those who shared his passion and served alongside him in senior living.  Justin dedicated 16 years to the growth and development of front line associates and department leaders, working to create opportunities for advancement.

Justin also had a strong passion for ensuring the communities under his leadership could provide competent and compassionate care and service.  One of his greatest attributes was bringing joy to those around him, most often putting others before himself.  Justin received promotions several times during his career and identified the value of career pathways for front line associates and department leaders.  He also saw the power of networking in the industry to create streamlined processes and engagement programs to benefit both residents and associates.

At the age of 45, Justin contracted COVID and although he fought valiantly, he passed away in late September 2020.  To honor his legacy, FSLA is creating the Justin Paul Brown Memorial Scholarship for Senior Living to fund professional development opportunities for other leaders in senior living. This scholarship recognizes Justin’s leadership, passion and courage, and his commitment to empowering and educating the next generation of senior living leaders will live on in his memory.

Description:  The Justin Paul Brown scholarship awards a senior living community department leader with full tuition to attend the Florida Senior Living Association Senior Living Annual Conference.  The leader will have access to cutting edge educational materials and invaluable networking opportunities to meet leaders and experience new technologies.

Eligibility:  Applicant must be a department coordinator, supervisor or director within a Florida senior living community which is part of the Florida Senior Living Association.

Requirements: Those interested in applying for the Senior Living Scholarship must submit an application packet (coming soon), a one-page personal essay about where the applicant desires to be in three years as well as how they will use the content at the conference to pay it forward, and at least one letter of recommendation.       

Where to Apply: Florida Senior Living Association Website (coming soon)

Deadline: June 10, 2022

Donations to the Justin Paul Brown Memorial Scholarship for Senior Living may be made by contacting the Florida Senior Living Association.

Release: Florida Senior Living Approved Caregiver Certification Program Will Drive Industry Awareness & Get Floridians Back To Work

Tallahassee, Fla. – The Florida Senior Living Association (FSLA) and myCNAjobs, the nation’s largest career network for front-line healthcare workers, today announced a partnership to drive senior living career awareness and help Floridians get back to work via a Caregiver Certification and job placement program.

Florida has one of the highest elderly populations in the nation, and its senior living communities struggled to recruit CNAs and other front-line care roles pre-COVID. Unfortunately, the pandemic has not only compounded those issues but has also presented new challenges, including fear of the unknown when it comes to working in a community that serves such a vulnerable population.

“COVID-19 has certainly created many challenges for our profession, but it also has offered us a unique opportunity,” said Gail Matillo, President of FSLA. “We need to capitalize on this moment to invest in a stronger, healthier workforce. That starts with ensuring people understand what the profession is and helping them developing the right skills to succeed in their jobs.”

According to numbers released in mid-August by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, statewide unemployment rose from 10.3% to 11.3%, which translates to 1.13 million out-of-work Floridians.

The Caregiver Certification course, built by FSLA industry partner myCNAjobs and Rush University Professor of Nursing Beth Ann Christopher, is a 4-hour mobile-friendly training program that includes both the fundamentals of a job in care and how to approach a career in the senior living industry. Individuals who complete the course can immediately be scheduled for interviews and matched with local employers.

“This is a multi-faceted strategy that involves not only bringing more awareness to careers in aging, but also bringing together the association and over 400 senior living executives to have an important conversation on the needs of frontline workers to coach up a vulnerable population and ensure there’s a true career path,” said Brandi Kurtyka, CEO of Tampa-based myCNAjobs.com. “Immediately, we can drive awareness to get Floridians back to work while setting the stage for a dialogue on ensuring senior living is a profession people want to pursue longer-term.”

To learn more, visit https://floridaseniorliving.org/ or view the Caregiver Certification course here.

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About Florida Senior Living Association: The Florida Senior Living Association is the preeminent association representing companies that operate professionally managed senior living communities offering independent, assisted living and memory care services throughout the state of Florida.

About myCNAjobs: myCNAjobs is the nation’s largest career network for caregivers, certified nursing assistants and home health aides, representing 70 percent of America’s direct care workers. For companies, myCNAjobs offers a suite of recruitment tools to more efficiently hire and onboard. To learn more visit, myCNAjobs.

Release: Florida Senior Living Association Calls for Important Clarification About List of Facilities

Tallahassee, Fla. – The Florida Senior Living Association (FSLA) today thanked Governor DeSantis for prioritizing the health and welfare of residents in long-term care facilities and urged state regulators to further clarify what information is included in the published list of long-term care facilities affected by COVID-19. The list is currently described as representing COVID-19 positive reports in staff or residents from long-term care facilities in Florida. However, the list also includes long-term care facilities that have been included in contact tracing investigations.

Contact tracing investigations start with a person who has a positive test result and fans out to anyone that person may have had contact with while contagious. These exposed individuals may never contract the virus; they have simply been in contact with someone who tested positive.
Unfortunately, this means some facilities have been included on the Department of Health list because of contact tracing, even though they have never had any positive test results among their staff members and residents. Some communities were surprised to find themselves included on the list without any prior notification from state regulators.
“We’ve talked to so many facilities who are on this list but know for a fact they have never had any positive test results among staff or residents, and their inclusion on this list has created significant distress for family members, residents and staff,” said Gail Matillo, President and CEO of FSLA. “This situation is causing many of our communities to lose the trust of the people they serve, which is why public explanation of what the list truly includes is so critical.”
FSLA represents hundreds of the state’s larger assisted living and memory care communities with an overall total of more than 32,000 beds. It believes it is important to share relevant information about positive COVID-19 test results with all parties affected by those results as soon as possible. This includes residents, their families, staff members and any other health care providers who may enter the building, as well as all necessary local and state regulators.
“We are proud of the commitment to transparency and safety our members and their communities have demonstrated throughout Florida,” said Matillo. “We urge state regulators and members of the media to take the necessary care when releasing and publishing information to ensure it is accurate and portrayed correctly.”

Advisory – ALFs Should Prepare for COVID-19 Mitigation Efforts

Tallahassee, Fla. — “COVID-19 is coming, and it’s not a matter of if, but when,” is the message Florida Senior Living Association (FSLA) conveyed to its membership during a member-wide conference call earlier today.

“Senior living communities are taking the COVID-19 virus very seriously and paying close attention as the virus progresses through our state,” said Gail Matillo, FSLA President/CEO. “Executive directors and staff should communicate their plans, prepare for worst-case scenarios, anticipate problems and consider next steps.”

FSLA member communities have excellent infection control policies and procedures in place to protect residents and staff from the flu and other contagious diseases. However, with the COVID-19 virus, seniors and those with compromised immune systems are unfortunately most at risk. The good news is that senior living communities are a secure and healthy place to live and staff are doing everything they can keep their communities safe and sound.

The association encouraged communities to cancel off-campus activities and keep residents from traveling out of the community as much as possible. It also suggested helping residents communicate with family members using Skype, text and phone instead of in-person visits.

Yesterday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order detailing prohibitions on visits to nursing homes and assisted living facilities, particularly for people who may have tested positive for COVID-19 or who reside in a community with confirmed community spread of COVID-19, as identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or a state public health agency.

FSLA is working with the Florida Division of Emergency Management, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration and the Florida Department of Health to help ensure caregivers have adequate supplies and receive priority testing, if necessary.

The association would also like to thank the following organizations for developing and sharing their guidance and toolkits:

Brookdale Senior Living has developed a toolkit with materials useful for senior living communities: https://www.brookdalenews.com/brookdale-covid-19-toolkit.htm

Argentum has provided resources, links and suggested best practices for a thoughtful approach to coronavirus preparation and response in senior living communities: https://www.argentum.org/coronavirustoolkit/

The American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) has updated guidance for assisted living communities, including recommendations on limiting entry, restricting group activities and setting up remote communication processes: https://www.ahcancal.org/facility_operations/disaster_planning/Documents/AL-Guidance-Preventing-COVID19.pdf

Florida Health Care Association has developed a facility visitor screening toolkit for long term care centers that encompasses the most current Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines: https://www.fhca.org/images/uploads/pdf/FHCACOVIDVisitorScreeningToolkit.pdf

Release: FL Senior Living Association Applauds Passage of ALF Modernization Bill

Tallahassee, Fla. – The Florida Senior Living Association (FSLA) today thanked the Florida Legislature for unanimously passing HB 767, which modernizes regulations for assisted living communities in Florida. The bill allows residents of assisted living and memory care communities to use assistive devices to help keep them mobile and independent. The legislation was sponsored in the House by Representative Michael Grant (R-75) and in the Senate by Senator Gayle Harrell (R-25).

“We are so grateful to our bill sponsors for their leadership on this issue,” said Gail Matillo, the President/CEO of FSLA. “Whenever we can modernize regulations to make communities safer, not only for residents but also for the health care workers, we’ve made excellent progress for our industry and our state.”

Assistive devices include wearables, transfer aids, shoe inserts, telehealth technologies, arthritis supports, and other devices that can be added and removed by the resident. Many assisted living residents often use assistive devices for years in their own homes but are forced to give them up upon entering long-term care facilities, causing not only their risk of injury to increase, but also the risk to their caregivers who may be injured while catching a falling patient or helping a resident who has already fallen and cannot get up without assistance.

“FSLA is proud to have had the opportunity to work with Representative Grant, Senator Harrell, and other senior living stakeholder groups on this important legislation,” said Jason Hand, the Vice President of Public Policy and Legal Affairs of FSLA.

The legislation, which now goes to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for his signature, modernizes the current regulatory structure to provide safer environments for residents and community health care workers.