5 Things Florida: Pandemic flexibilities, Nursing home transparency, HCBS report


Emily Boerger


We’re hosting several events in the coming weeks that I want to be sure are on your radar. In two weeks, we’ll host the 2022 State of Reform Federal Health Policy Conference. If you haven’t already, be sure to take a look at the Detailed Agenda to see the more than 60 speakers we have lined up to participate at this virtual event. We’d be honored to have you join us!

Next week we’re also looking forward to hosting our “5 Slides: The policy implications of new medicines” virtual conversation. More on that below.

Thanks for reading!

Emily Boerger
State of Reform


1. Expiring pandemic flexibilities’ impact on the safety net

As flexibilities implemented during the pandemic expire, advocates like those at the Florida Policy Institute are worried that some families will be left without adequate care or resources. FPI, which tracks a number of safety net programs in Florida, is particularly concerned about upcoming Medicaid redeterminations, access to food, and monetary assistance.

Recent program changes include the reinstatement of work requirements under the TANF program and the end of SNAP emergency allotments. In the absence of these flexibilities, FPI senior policy analyst Cindy Huddleston says nonprofit organizations have worked to fill in the gaps. “There’s just a bunch of puzzle pieces that we haven’t yet put together to figure out what the repercussions have been of pulling back on these flexibilities,” she said.


2. ‘5 Slides: The policy implications of new medicines’

The intersection of cost pressures and innovation in pharmacy is becoming a primary topic of concern in health policy. At our upcoming “5 Slides: The policy implications of new medicines” virtual convening, three experts will offer insight into innovative strategies and policies that seek to reduce costs.

The conversation will take place on Tuesday, February 8, from 12:00 – 1:00pm EST, and will bring together Karen van Caulil, Ph.D., president & CEO of the Florida Alliance for Healthcare Value, Omar Rashid, M.D., surgical oncologist at Holy Cross Health, and Wayne Winegarden, Ph.D., senior fellow and director of the Center for Medical Economics and Innovation at the Pacific Research Institute. The event is free to attend, but you have to register to join us!

3. Lawmakers focus on nursing home spending transparency

Lawmakers are leading an effort to increase accountability and spending transparency in Florida nursing homes. House Bill 1237 and Senate Bill 1596 would both require nursing homes to spend at least 75% of their total Medicaid revenue on patient care costs—with 55% going to direct care. If a nursing home fails to spend the 75%, it is required to pay excess revenue to the Agency for Health Care Administration.

AHCA will then be required to use the collected funds to “fund initiatives that improve the quality of care or quality of life for residents of nursing home facilities.” While nursing homes are required to disclose their Medicaid expenditures, there are no requirements to disclose exactly where the funding goes, according to AARP Florida Associate State Director of Advocacy Zayne Smith. The two bills have been referred to committee but have not yet had public hearings.


4. Report: Investments in HCBS could save Florida millions

A recent report from Florida TaxWatch found that increasing access to home and community-based services could result in significant fiscal savings. The report states: “Assuming the current waitlist of 85,500 individuals for Florida’s state-funded HCBS programs (e.g., Community Care for Elderly program), a one percentage point decrease in the waitlist would be associated with a $63.7 million cost savings for Florida’s taxpayers.”

Expanding HCBS would produce additional benefits for family caregivers, states the report, by reducing their out-of-pocket expenses and reducing their foregone earnings. Policy recommendations in the report include identifying and standardizing quality measures for HCBS, and integrating informal caregiving into plans to improve HCBS usage in Florida.


5. Workforce legislation moves through health committee

Recent movement in the Senate Committee on Health Policy has focused on increasing access to services by adjusting certain restrictions on health care providers. On Wednesday, the committee voted in favor of Senate Bill 1374, which would allow registered nurses to bypass licensure restrictions needed to perform lab testing at hospitals or other alternate lab sites.

Also on Wednesday, lawmakers passed out of committee Senate Bill 1144, which would put in place a new exemption from Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (COPCN) licensure requirements. Senate Bill 842, which would require an option for physicians to buy out of “restrictive covenants” within employment agreements, passed out of committee last week and is now in the Rules Committee.