TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) - With certified nursing assistants a key issue in the debate, the House on Friday overwhelmingly passed a bill that would change staffing standards in nursing homes.
The Senate also took up the bill and could pass it as soon as Monday. Supporters argued that the bill (HB 1239) would provide more flexibility for nursing homes to meet the needs of residents, while also helping address staffing shortages.
"I want to empower our elderly with the highest possible quality of life," bill sponsor Lauren Melo, R-Naples, said.
But opponents said the bill poses a threat to residents because it could lead to less care from certified nursing assistants, who perform many of the hands-on services in nursing homes.
"Slashing our staffing standards will result in real harm," Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, said. Current law requires that certified nursing assistants provide a minimum of 2.5 hours of direct care per resident per day.
The bill would reduce that to two hours. Also, current law requires that certified nursing assistants and licensed nurses provide a weekly average of 3.6 hours of direct care per patient per day.
The House bill would keep that 3.6-hour average, but it would allow time spent by other types of workers, such as physical therapists and occupational therapists, to be factored into the calculation. The House voted 80-31 to pass the measure.
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