TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Rick Scott's mandate that all assisted living facilities have generators and 96 hours of backup fuel will cost the industry about $280 million, according to estimates published Wednesday by the Florida Department of Elder Affairs.
Because the majority of residents in assisted living facilities are “self pay” and don't rely on Medicaid, the providers won't be able to recoup Medicaid funding to help offset the generator costs, said Susan Anderson, vice president of public policy for Florida Argentum, a statewide association that represents assisted living facilities.
The Department of Elder Affairs published a summary of the estimated regulatory costs on Wednesday after it received a three-page letter from the Joint Administrative Procedures Committee flagging potential problems with the proposed rule, initially published on Nov. 14. The estimated costs were published in the Florida Administrative Register.
Florida law requires the department to publish a summary of estimated costs to comply with the regulations and announce whether the rule would require legislative approval. Any rule that increases the costs of doing business by more than $200,000 in the aggregate requires legislative approval.
The rule proposed Nov. 14 is meant to replace an emergency rule that the Scott administration issued in September after the deaths of eight residents at The Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills nursing home following Hurricane Irma. The Broward County facility lost its air-conditioning system Sept. 10 in the storm, and the residents died three days later.
According to the department's estimates, there are 3,111 assisted living facilities licensed across the state, and more than half of them have fewer than seven beds. To abide by the mandate that they have a generator and enough fuel to keep the temperature at 81 degrees for four days, those small facilities will have to spend an average of $28,000. In the aggregate, the total cost for those providers is estimated at slightly more than $44.7 million.
The state has another 775 assisted living facilities with between seven and 49 beds, and compliance costs for those providers total an estimated $53.2 million. There are another 428 assisted living facilities with 50 to 100 beds, and they will pay a total of about $45.6 million to comply with the requirements.
About 10 percent of the assisted living facilities across the state have more than 100 beds. Those large facilities will be hit with upwards of $136.5 million in overall costs.
Florida Argentum's Anderson said facilities will have to try to hold down their operating costs to help offset the increased regulatory expenses. The largest component of a facility's operating costs, she said, is spent on employees.