Task Force Looks toward House Calls for Aging Populace Long-Term Options for Home Care Urged

By Mattson, Marcia | The Florida Times Union, July 18, 2000 | Go to article overview

Task Force Looks toward House Calls for Aging Populace Long-Term Options for Home Care Urged


Mattson, Marcia, The Florida Times Union


TALLAHASSEE -- Members of a state task force on long-term care said yesterday that more programs and services must be developed to enable Florida's aging residents to stay in their own homes.

The task force was formed by the Legislature this year to address the problem of nursing homes that close for financial reasons. The panel has been ordered to recommend by Jan. 1 new laws to improve long-term care in Florida.

Nursing home lobbyists have warned for the past several months that homes across the state could shut down if their liability insurance costs continue to multiply and insurance becomes more difficult to find.

The industry lobbied in the past legislative session for restrictions on lawsuits, claiming Florida law makes it too easy for trial lawyers to win frivolous cases.

Trial lawyers countered that nursing homes were sued because they gave bad care.

So far, the closures the industry predicted have not occurred.

But the task force must address how to keep more people receiving care in their own home, said members of the Task Force on the Availability and Affordability of Long-Term Care, headed by Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan.

"We have become too dependent on nursing homes," state Rep. Nancy Argenziano, R-Crystal River, told her fellow task force members.

Many people need some help, but not the level of service a nursing home or assisted living facility would provide, Brogan said.

"I don't think anything creates a greater impetus for change than a crisis," Brogan said.

State Sen. John McKay, R-Bradenton, who proposed creating the task force, said passing legislation to improve long-term care will be one of his highest priorities as Senate president next session.

He de-emphasized the insurance issue and said the task force's purpose is to make sure Florida spends funds on long-term care wisely.

"There's a huge amount of money in long-term care," McKay said. "There are too many folks we are putting in nursing homes, I believe, that shouldn't be in nursing homes."

The task force has scheduled public hearings in Tampa, Miami, Pensacola and Tallahassee.

The Florida Policy Exchange Center on Aging at the University of South Florida is providing background and research material and will help write the legislation. …

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