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Sarasota Herold-Tribune

Nursing home bill postponed

Thursday, March 19, 2009

State Sen. Mike Bennett’s proposal to cut back inspections of nursing homes hit a snag earlier today.

The Senate Health Regulation Committee ran out of time during their meeting and had to postpone debate on Senate Bill 1562.

Bennett said he still expects the bill to get a hearing next week when the Health Regulation Committee next meets.

“We’re going to get it out of here,” Bennett said about passing the bill.

As reporter Kevin McQuaid pointed out Tuesday, Senate Bill 1562 would eliminate Agency for Health Care Administration deficiency classes and fines; inspections by both the Fire Marshal and the state Department of Health; Long-Term Care Ombudsman volunteer assessments; a "gold seal" program that rewarded superior providers; and a state "watch list" that highlights problem centers.

Read more about the bill in McQuaid’s story.

Bennett said nursing homes are overinspected. But consumer groups fear fewer inspections could lead to lower quality care.

Senate Bill 1562 has a long way to go still. The bill must pass two other committees in the Senate before it can go to a vote of the full Senate. A companion bill in the House has yet to be heard in any committee. Both the Senate and House must pass identical bills for legislation to be considered by the governor.