On September 16, Florida Governor Rick Scott directed the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and the Florida Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA) to issue an emergency rule requiring assisted living communities to obtain resources within 60 days, such as a generator and fuel, to support and sustain operations for at least 96 hours following a power loss.

Argentum agreed in principle with the rule, but expressed concerns with the feasibility of the timeline for implementation. As a result, Argentum worked closely with Florida Argentum last month to submit a challenge to the rule in both the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) as well as the Florida District Court of Appeal (DCA).

While the DCA announced their decision on October 19 against the combined petition submitted by Florida Argentum, LeadingAge Florida, and Florida Assisted Living Association to stay the emergency rule, DOAH’s Administrative Law Judge Gar Chisenhall decided in favor of the combined petition on October 27.

While the judge’s decision declared the governor’s emergency rule invalid, the state filed an appeal to the ruling shortly after the decision was rendered, and instructed AHCA and DOEA to interpret the rule to remain in effect for the next 30 days.

Florida Argentum and LeadingAge Florida requested clarification on the issue, but the judge stated he only has approval to correct a clerical error. Therefore, relief from the state’s declaration that the emergency rule is still in effect must now be sought in a different court. Florida Argentum plans to file a motion with the District Court of Appeal to lift the stay claimed by the agencies. Unfortunately, the District Court of Appeal does not have a deadline and can rule at any time.

In recognition of the need for further attention, Florida Argentum is also requesting legislation to be filed to address resident safety concerns, generator requirements, emergency management plans, fuel storage, defining common areas, adding assisted living communities to priority power restoration, and pre-emptive action to prevent local governments from developing and interpreting rules differently than state rules and laws.

During this process, Argentum was pleased to use the resources of its Advocacy Fund, designed to address critical issues such as the emergency rule, to challenge the rule and advocate on behalf of its members. Argentum will continue to provide updates on this issue as new information becomes available.


If you are a Florida provider and this impacts your business, please contact Gail Matillo of Florida Argentum at gmatillo@floridaseniorliving.org for further information.

 

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