Assisted living communities and skilled nursing facilities in Florida may get more time to meet state requirements to have backup generators and on-site fuel for them after Ron DeSantis becomes governor Jan. 8.
Lt. Gov.-elect Jeanette Nuñez told the News Service of Florida said DeSantis is considering adjusting timelines set under Gov. Rick Scott, given that many facilities have not been able to meet them. Both DeSantis and Scott are Republicans.
“I know there was some concern, both at the House level and I suspect at the Senate level, in terms of the reality of that, especially on the ALF side, being able to come to fruition,” she told the media outlet. “That’ll likely be an ongoing discussion.”
Scott originally proposed the generator and fuel requirements in September 2017 after residents of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, Hollywood, FL, died when a power outage related to Hurricane Irma knocked out the facility’s air conditioning. The requirements now in effect were contained in bills passed in March by the legislature after legal challenges to Scott’s orders.
The assisted living rule requires each community to have a backup power source that can maintain an air conditioning system during a power outage and must have 48 to 72 hours worth of fuel on hand, depending on the size of the community. A companion bill applying to nursing homes had similar requirements.
Plans were to be submitted and implemented by June 1, but communities were allowed to seek temporary extensions, which are set to expire Jan. 1.
As of Dec. 7, 59% of licensed assisted living communities in Florida (1,843 of 3,089) had met the requirements, with 1,124 facilities having submitted requests to the Department of Elder Affairs asking for more time to meet the mandate, according to a state website.
“We know providers are experiencing uncontrollable delays in permitting, engineering and manufacturing of commercial generators as well as with the retrofitting of buildings, so the Jan. 1 deadline will be tough to meet,” Florida Senior Living Association President and CEO Gail Matillo and Vice President of Public Policy and Legal Affairs Susan Anderson told McKnight’s Senior Living. “Variance requests are being filed to move the compliance date back, but no one is contesting the need for the generators.”
LeadingAge Florida President and CEO Steve Bahmer made a similar comment to the news service. “Our members are doing everything they can to be compliant,” he said. “Certainly everyone’s goal is to be fully compliant.”