Miami Jewish Health is advocating for bills that would supplement the healthcare workforce and support responsible guidelines for Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) growth during this legislative session.
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Miami Jewish Health specializes in senior care, providing long-term, cognitive mental health, nursing home, assisted living, home, and low-income senior housing care in Broward County. Cliff Bauer, vice president of government relations and joint ventures at the organization, told State of Reform it became home to Florida’s first PACE program in 2003.
“PACE is a fully-capitated Medicaid/Medicare program,” Bauer said. “You have to be nursing-home eligible to go into the program. We’re the largest PACE program in the state, and 10th largest in the country. We have five PACE sites in Broward County where we take care of participants. We’re an organization geared toward serving the elderly.”
Miami Jewish Health also operates 450 low-income senior housing units in Broward County, and is planning to partner with a developer to build additional low-income tax credit housing there.
“We also have a small hospital,” Bauer said. “It’s licensed as a hospital, but built to serve nursing home patients. We also have clinical research and cognitive mental health institutions related to the elderly. We have about 25 clinical trials, and see patients from the community who suffer from cognitive disorders, like dementia, bipolar, and schizophrenia.”
Like many healthcare organizations, Miami Jewish Health has been impacted by workforce shortages. Bauer said Senate Bill 558 and its companion bill, House Bill 351, would help supplement the workforce. The bills would authorize nursing homes to allow their registered nurses to delegate certain tasks to certified nursing assistants (CNAs), and designate those CNAs as qualified medication aides.
“That’s going to create a new class of workers called qualified medication aides,” Bauer said. “It allows CNAs to be medication administrators, instead of them having to get a (licensed practical nurse) degree. It exists in 36 states already. Florida has been reluctant to do this, but we’re asking legislators to recognize this kind of worker.”
SB 558 was passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Health and Human Services on Tuesday, and is now in the Fiscal Policy Committee. HB 351 awaits a vote in the House Health and Human Services Committee.
Miami Jewish Health is opposing HB 693 and its companion bill, SB 1504. The bills would remove provisions requiring the Agency for Health Care Administration to consult with the Department of Elderly Affairs regarding the administration of the PACE program, and prohibiting more than one PACE organization within a specified service area.
“It would delete one paragraph of the state statute that says there can only be one PACE program per region,” Bauer said. “While we’re all for competition, there’s going to be three in Broward County. The issue is if they start coming in too quickly, PACE doesn’t grow that quickly. We need to make sure the programs are stable financially and won’t cause existing programs to go out of business.”
The organization gets a specific PACE capitation rate from the state every month. The program pays for all the services patients need, which is expensive, Bauer said.
“So we’re saying to just be astute of the resources so you’re not allowing new programs to come in and letting other programs flounder,” he said. “PACE cannot enroll everyone that applies because there’s a certain amount the state allows. The state wants to regulate how many are in the state, and this is the antithesis of that. We don’t think the logic behind the bill makes sense.”
HB 693 has its first reading on March 7th, and awaits a House vote. SB 1504 was introduced in the Senate on March 14th, and awaits a vote.
Bauer also supports any initiatives that would bring additional affordable housing to Miami.
“In areas like Miami, housing has become unaffordable,” he said. “People can’t afford to move there, so we are supporting statewide efforts for affordable housing initiatives. (The US Department of Housing and Urban Development) did provide funds for affordable housing, but we have over 1,000 seniors on our affordable housing wait list in Broward County.”