Florida law regarding continuing care retirement community contracts is poised to change after the Friday passage of HB 1033 by the state legislature. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk, where he is expected to sign it into law.

“This legislation strikes an important balance that protects residents, provides incentives for high-performing providers and strengthens regulators,” LeadingAge Florida President and CEO Steve Bahmer said in a statement. “It is an important tool that will help ensure a healthy and vibrant senior living market for Florida’s future.”

The “complex regulatory update,” Bahmer said, was three years in the making, with input from providers, residents and regulators. Sen. Tom Lee, a Republican, sponsored the state senate’s version of the bill.

An impetus for the legislation, Paul Williams, vice president of government relations at Argentum, told McKnight’s Senior Living, was a CCRC bankruptcy that caused concern because it left residents “in the lurch” financially. CCRCs also are informally known as life plan communities.

“Argentum members in Florida shared in that concern and worked with Sen. Lee and the Office of Insurance Regulation and the Department of Financial Services, which regulate CCRC contracts,” he said. HB 1033, he said, “provides different warnings and triggers so the department can identify distressed communities,” intervene and try to prevent bankruptcies while protecting residents.

Williams said he anticipates that the governor will sign the legislation into law.

Additionally, according to LeadingAge Florida and Argentum, the bill:

  • Increases transparency and disclosure of CCRC financial information, administrative proceedings and changes of ownership.
  • Provides business-friendly incentives for providers, to encourage investment and expansion to meet Florida’s growing demand for senior living options.
  • Revises monthly, quarterly and annual reporting by CCRCs to provide more relevant and timely information about financial performance.
  • Imposes an express duty on CCRCs to produce records during an examination and gives the OIR standing to petition a court for production of such records.
  • Authorizes the OIR, under certain conditions, to issue an immediate suspension order on a CCRC, as well as cease and desist order on a person that violates specified laws.
  • Revises and streamlines provisions of law relating to applications for licensure and acquisition of a CCRC.
  • Provides additional authority for the OIR to disapprove and remove unqualified management.
  • Requires providers to make additional information, notices and reports available to residents or residents’ councils.
  • Revises the current process for the resolution of residents’ complaints in an effort to provide greater transparency regarding the process.
  • Increases the number of resident members of the Continuing Care Advisory Council from three to four.

“The legislature indicated that the laws regulating CCRCs in Florida needed updating,” a spokeswoman for the Florida Health Care Association told McKnight’s Senior Living. “FHCA appreciated the opportunity to provide input toward balancing the bill to address regulatory concerns and the protection of seniors who rely on our state to offer viable options for their long-term care needs.”