Posts Tagged ‘Agency for Health Care Administration’

Gov. Scott, his lobbyist pal, a nursing home deal and a curious change of heart at AHCA

Monday, November 6th, 2017

By Dan Christensen
FloridaBulldog.org
Three years ago, state healthcare regulators moved to block Dr. Jack Michel’s bid to buy the Hollywood nursing home where more than a dozen elderly patients later met their deaths in the wake of Hurricane Irma. But months later, after Michel retained a lobbyist confidant of Gov. Rick Scott the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) reversed course.
The post Gov. Scott, his lobbyist pal, a nursing home deal and a curious change of heart at AHCA appeared first on Florida Bulldog.

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Before deaths, Gov. Rick Scott and Hollywood nursing home owner were chummy

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

By Dan Christensen
FloridaBulldog.org
Before Gov. Rick Scott and South Florida healthcare mogul Dr. Jack Michel began pointing fingers at each other after elderly patients baked to death in Michel’s now-closed Hollywood nursing home, the two men were pals of a sort.
The post Before deaths, Gov. Rick Scott and Hollywood nursing home owner were chummy appeared first on Florida Bulldog.

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Florida hired owner of Hollywood nursing home where patients died to plan for disasters

Monday, October 16th, 2017

By Dan Christensen
FloridaBulldog.org
Twice in the last five years, Florida hired to review area disaster planning a hospital run by the owner of the Hollywood nursing home where elderly patients died after Hurricane Irma cut power to air-conditioning.
The post Florida hired owner of Hollywood nursing home where patients died to plan for disasters appeared first on Florida Bulldog.

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Bad nursing homes benefit from AHCA’s passive-aggressive war on #transparency

Monday, March 6th, 2017

Somebody please give Shelisha Coleman a big fat raise.
The Agency for Health Care Administration’s (AHCA) high profile flack works hard duty playing hardball with some of Florida’s best reporters, but makes tens of thousands of dollars less than men paid by taxpayers to tell tall tales about #Transparency.
Coleman had to drop a whopping load of horsefeathers on the Orlando Sentinel last week in a laughable effort to justify AHCA’s unlawful redactions to public records.
Taking up the cause of families who love their grandparents, reporter Kate Santich asked AHCA to explain why inspection reports are being scrubbed of “dates, places and pivotal words” that make it possible to gauge the quality and safety of Florida’s nursing homes.
People who pay attention to Transparency and Accountability (T&A) in Florida had no trouble believing the attorney who told Santich “I’ve been looking at these reports for 20 years, and I know what they used to look like and what they look like now. It has become arbitrary and inconsistent what they redact — but I think it’s all part of a bigger purpose to confuse people and make the reports useless.”
Like a lamb to the slaughter, Coleman was dispatched by her better-paid bosses to tell the Sentinel that state officials are merely trying to “provide additional protection of personal health information” as required by federal privacy laws.
After she stopped laughing, First Amendment Foundation President Barbara Petersen pointed out the holes in the rationalizations, prevarications and passive aggressive sandbagging served up by Coleman to justify AHCA’s “new redaction process.”
That new redaction process is good news for bad nursing homes. We can hope Santich’s story will embarrass the legislature into doing something about it. But don’t bet Grandpa’s life on it.
The post Bad nursing homes benefit from AHCA’s passive-aggressive war on #transparency appeared first on Florida

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House panel to discuss changing how nursing homes that accept Medicaid are paid

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

Nursing homes that accept Medicaid could see changes in how they are paid in the coming fiscal year, but exactly what those changes will look like remain to be seen.
The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee is expected to begin discussions about new payment plans Wednesday, when Agency for Health Care Administration officials give members a presentation detailing the Navigant recommendations for a new payment method.
The Navigant proposal would move the state away from its current cost-based model and into a prospective payment system. While some industry officials appear supportive of a move to a prospective payment system, there are varying degree of concern about whether the Navigant proposal is right for Florida.
“We think the Navigant proposal is a good starting point,” said Tom Parker, the director of reimbursement for the Florida Health Care Association, which represents 82 percent of the state’s nursing centers. “It gets us 90 percent of the way we’d like to see it.”
Parker said a prospective payment system is “good for the industry and good for the state” since facilities have a good understanding of what the rates will be year-over-year. Still, Parker said his organization has several changes it would like to see made before a plan is adopted.
One such change would be to tweak the “Fair Rental Value System” outlined in the Navigant proposal so that providers are incentivized to do renovations or make replacements. That could be done by bumping up the minimum square footage per bed used in the FRVS parameters to 350 square feet, up from the 100 square feet per bed current recommended in the report.
Parker also said the FHCA would like to see changes as it relates to the Quality Incentive Payment Program. According to a Dec. 29 report, Navigant came up with an incentive program after “significant discussion with

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Pam Bondi steps into federal case over state’s abortion law

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

A federal case on the state’s new abortion law has taken another twist with a filing from Attorney General Pam Bondi‘s office.
Late Monday, her office notified the court of proposed rules related to the law that could affect Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle‘s consideration of a pending request for a preliminary injunction.
The controversy in question involves part of the law that requires those engaged in abortion referral or counseling services to pay a fee to register with the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and provides for criminal penalties for not registering.
The American Civil Liberties Union, representing several Florida reverends, rabbis and nonprofit organizations, is seeking the injunction to prevent enforcement of the provision. The plaintiffs say it infringes on their constitutional free speech and privacy rights.
Bondi, through Special Counsel Blaine Winship, asked the judge to take “judicial notice … of (a) proposed amended rule and registration form” newly developed by the agency.
Bondi’s filing says the new rule “clarifies that registration is only (required from those) ‘who are paid for the particular purpose of providing advice or assistance’ ” and “who provide advice or assistance to persons ‘in obtaining abortions or pursuing alternatives to abortion.’ “
Hinkle, during last month’s oral argument on the injunction, had raised questions on who was required to register. Bondi’s filing suggests, at the least, that the law does not apply to volunteers.
The rule and a “proposed registration form clarify that only registration is provided for, and not licensure, for which AHCA’s permission would be required,” it adds.
Another question in oral argument was whether the registration requirement constituted a form of licensing by the agency. The form sets the registration cost at $200.
“Moreover, neither the proposed rule nor the proposed registration form requires registration prior to advising or assisting persons,” the filing says.
Last month, Hinkle had mused that abortion counselors “can’t speak unless they’re registered (with the state, and) if they don’t pay, they can’t

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Aaron Bean files bill focused on nursing home Medicaid reimbursement rates

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

Industry advocates said a Senate proposal filed this week could change the way nursing homes that accept Medicaid are paid without severely impacting high quality nursing homes.
Sponsored by Sen. Aaron Bean, the bill (SB 712) transitions nursing homes that accept Medicaid payments to a prospective payment system. But LeadingAge Florida CEO Steve Bahmer said Bean’s bill “creates a better way to pay for care without devastating the highest quality” homes, unlike a model recently put forth by consultants.
The Florida Legislature OK’d legislation in 2016 set aside $500,000 for a study to develop a proposal to convert Medicaid payments for nursing home services from a cost-based reimbursement to a prospective payment plan. The state hired Navigant Consulting to conduct the study, which included a series of public meetings across the state.
Bahmer said a model developed by Navigant could shift “Medicaid funding from the highest quality nursing homes to the lowest quality nursing homes.” That model divides the state into two regions — the South region, which consists of Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, and the North region, which is the rest of the state.
The median cost in each region is then determined, and Bahmer said if facilities that are being paid more than that would lose money; those that receive less than the median would receive more.
Bahmer said while there are a “number of fundamental flaws” the Navigant plan, this could be one of the most significant ones. The cost of delivering care varies widely, and Bahmer said having such a larger region could make it difficult for nursing homes to provide “high quality care.”
Bean’s bill moves the state to a prospective payment system, and calls on the agency to set nursing rates based only on audited cost reports. It also calls on the agency to use the Fair Rental Value System

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State won’t have to pay Planned Parenthood’s legal tab

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

The state won’t end up on the hook for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida‘s legal fees, according to an appellate court decision released Thursday.
The health care organization had sought to punish the Agency for Health Care Administration by making it pay the group’s attorney fees after filing “administrative complaints … alleging violations of (its) license to perform abortions.”
The state eventually “voluntarily dismissed the complaints,” according to the opinion. But an administrative law judge still ordered an evidentiary hearing on the fees question.
A unanimous three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal said that judge overstepped his bounds, “depart(ing) from the essential requirements of the law.”
Citing case law, Judges Brad Thomas, T. Kent Wetherell II and M. Kemmerly Thomas said he didn’t have authority to order a hearing “because the case was voluntarily dismissed” and thus Planned Parenthood can’t be considered a “prevailing party.”
The case began last year after the agency, under Gov. Rick Scott, said Planned Parenthood clinics in St. Petersburg, Naples and Fort Myers were wrongfully providing second-trimester abortions.
Planned Parenthood lawyers had argued AHCA was incorrectly defining the beginning and end of trimesters and that the organization was innocent of any wrongdoing.
The post State won’t have to pay Planned Parenthood’s legal tab appeared first on Florida Politics.

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Steve Bahmer: Nursing home care in Florida has come a long way in the last 30 years

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Steve Bahmer
Since the early 1980s, when the state Agency for Health Care Administration conducted its last major overhaul of the Medicaid payment system for nursing homes, the quality of care in Florida nursing homes has vastly improved.
Although there are still exceptions, Florida is no longer home to the flood of nursing home horror stories that Sunshine State residents heard so frequently, and from so many homes, in the early ‘80s.
Improved regulatory oversight at AHCA and a payment system that rewarded nursing homes for providing high-quality care, among other factors, combined to slowly move Florida into the top tier of states in terms of nursing home quality.
In 2014, the organization Families for Better Care gave Florida nursing homes an ‘A’ grade, one of only 10 states to receive that grade, and it rated Florida fifth overall in the country in terms of care quality. In its 2015 rankings of the nation’s best nursing homes, US News & World Report listed Florida behind only California and Ohio for the number of 5-Star nursing homes in the state.
This may all be about to change.
Earlier this month, AHCA submitted a plan to the Governor and the Legislature for a new approach to nursing home Medicaid payments. The plan was intended to establish an equitable payment system that includes incentives for high-quality care, that simplifies the payment process, and that ultimately controls costs and makes legislators’ budgeting for Medicaid spending on nursing homes more predictable.
What the plan will actually do is penalize the nursing homes that for the last three decades have invested in delivering the highest quality of care possible, while rewarding homes that have remained at the bottom of the quality barrel.
Under AHCA’s proposal, 143 nursing homes that are rated as 4 or 5-star homes would lose significant funding. Meanwhile, 86 nursing homes

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Personnel Note: Beth Kidder named interim deputy secretary for Medicaid

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Beth Kidder is Florida’s new interim deputy secretary for Medicaid, overseeing the state’s nearly $26 billion state program that pays health costs for the poor.
Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida reports the announcement was made Oct. 6 in an email to Agency for Health Care Administration employees.
In the current year budget, Sexton writes, the Medicaid program is slated for $25.7 billion, which could increase to $26.4 billion to pay health care costs for elderly and disabled Floridians who qualify.
Kidder is taking the place of Justin Senior, who left Oct. 3 to become the agency’s interim secretary.
Senior replaced Liz Dudek, who has led the AHCA since the agency’s creation in the 1990s.
State records show Dudek was paid $141,000 annually. Senior, who reported directly to Dudek, earns $142,000 a year.
Dudek, who resigned unexpectedly Sept. 21, served as AHCA Secretary for both Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist.
Before becoming interim deputy secretary for Medicaid, Sexton notes Kidder served as assistant deputy secretary for Medicaid policy and quality. According to a state government website, Kidder has been with the state since 2001 and earns $120,000.
The post Personnel Note: Beth Kidder named interim deputy secretary for Medicaid appeared first on Florida Politics.

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Personnel note: Tony Guzzo heads to AHCA

Monday, September 26th, 2016

Tony Guzzo is the new Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs at Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration.
Guzzo was with the state for the last ten years.
Most recently, he served as a legislative analyst for the House Health & Human Services Committee, where he worked the past six legislative sessions.
Before that, he was an auditor of workers’ compensation claims for the state.
Guzzo received his undergraduate degree from Florida State University.
His brother, Cory, and father, Gary, are lobbyists with Floridian Partners.
The post Personnel note: Tony Guzzo heads to AHCA appeared first on Florida Politics.

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Secretary Liz Dudek to retire from AHCA

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Liz Dudek, who moved up the ranks at Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration to become its leader, is retiring from the agency effective Oct. 3.  
“Liz has been a part of my team since my first year in office and has spent over four decades serving Florida families,” Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement.
Dudek
“Under her leadership, we have worked to make hospitals more transparent and accomplished historic Medicaid reform,” he said. “She helped champion quality health services for children in our state and worked hard on our Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding where she fought to protect patients from being price gouged at hospitals.
“She has done an outstanding job making sure all Floridians have the opportunity to lead a healthy and safe life and I wish her the best in her retirement.”
Justin Senior, now Deputy Secretary of the Division of Medicaid, will serve as Interim Secretary as of Oct. 3.
Dudek departs in the wake of the discovery of the agency’s years-long $377 million billing error, in which it systematically – and apparently unknowingly – underpaid the state’s Medicaid health maintenance organizations, or HMOs.
The HMOs have been paid back fees of about $180 million, but lawmakers still need to approve money to pay the rest of what’s owed.
Scott first appointed Dudek secretary of AHCA – which has a roughly $20 billion yearly budget – in March 2011, according to the agency’s website.
She was renominated by Scott for the job and again confirmed by the Senate this February.
Among other things, the agency administers the state’s Medicaid program and oversees licensing of Florida’s 45,000 health care facilities.
She was first hired by the state Dec. 1, 1974, records show.
Since then, she’s served in a succession of top positions: Bureau Chief of Certificate of Need/Budget Review, Bureau Chief

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