The 2019 legislative session brought many challenges to long term care providers. We saw a strain on the state budget resulting from Hurricane Michael and the costs associated with rebuilding after the storm, increased environmental spending and lower tax revenues. Healthcare, in general, was under attack, with the House making clear their intent to cut spending and inject market forces
Many of our champions from previous sessions have also moved on. No longer do we have the likes of Senators Joe Negron and Denise Grimsley and Representative Shawn Harrison working to protect our issues. This made advocating for our Medicaid funding more difficult than in years’ past.
A new governor and many new legislators are in office, which means we have our work cut out for us in the months ahead. The 2020 legislative session will start in January, and we must continue educating legislators about the important connection between funding and quality care. We must help them understand our staffing challenges, how the population we care is extremely frail with complex medical needs, and how keeping pace with the state’s increasing aging population becomes more difficult without the proper resources.
Your active involvement during session – through Lobby Wednesdays, legislator meetings and all the grassroots – laid a foundation for building legislative relationships. Certainly, your participation in these activities put us in a much better place. We were the only health care provider to see a rate increase this session, and without you, things could have ended much differently.
Now, however, is not the time to fall asleep at the wheel. It’s time for FHCA to once again build champions in the Legislature. This session, we saw a few legislative champions emerge as we rallied over the funding issue. There were also those who understood and saw the value in our work to address the aging crisis, who willingly stood by us as we announced the formation of the Coalition for Silver Solutions. But we must continue fostering those relationships in the months ahead.
Legislators have returned to their districts, and there’s much work to be done. Invite these lawmakers into your center, help them get to know your residents and staff. If they’ve already been through for a tour, then go farther. Encourage them to meet your Resident Council members, attend a 100th birthday celebration, help dedicate a new wing or honor your employees of the month. FHCA can help you make these arrangements, and the Government Affairs team is eager to do so.
Additionally, Florida Health Care’s Political Action Committee (FHC PAC) has organized several events to increase its membership and generate support from members who want to have their voices heard. The FHC PAC is for long term care employees at every stage of their career. Contributions to participate can be made at any financial level, and when you do so you’re making an investment in your own success. The FHC PAC works to educate legislators and political candidates who want to take the time to learn about long term care and promote policies that enhance the lives of residents and caregivers.
FHC PAC members will be onsite next week at the Nurse Leadership Program in St. Pete Beach and at Annual Conference in Orlando in August. Stop by their table, learn how you can join. Talk to FHCA’s Government Affairs team while you are there, as well, and learn what you can do to help us develop those legislative champions.