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Florida Legislature eyes more certificate of need changes

Florida's new and old Capitol buildings reside in Tallahassee.
Florida's new and old Capitol buildings reside in Tallahassee. (AP Photo/Phil Sears)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – After eliminating certificates of need last year for hospitals, Florida lawmakers will consider making changes to the so-called CON law for new intermediate care facilities for people with developmental disabilities.

House Health Quality Chairwoman Colleen Burton, R-Lakeland, filed a proposal (HB 1163) on Wednesday that would allow facilities to be built outside of the CON process so long as they meet certain requirements. Senate Health Policy Chairwoman Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, has filed the Senate version (SB 1344).

Certificate of need is a regulation that requires health care providers to prove to the state that there is a “need” for new facilities or services they want to offer.

Lawmakers last year eliminated the CON program for new hospitals and tertiary programs, such as organ transplants. Lawmakers chose to keep the CON requirements for intermediate care facilities for people with developmental disabilities, which are exclusively for Medicaid beneficiaries, and nursing homes, which also provide large amounts of Medicaid care.

The new bills tailor the proposed exemption for intermediate care facilities for people with developmental disabilities to providers that can build three eight-bed homes on a single campus. To qualify for the exemption, providers also would be required to dedicate two-thirds of the beds on their campuses to residents “with severe maladaptive behaviors.” Additionally, the exemption would apply only to providers with at least 10 years of experience serving individuals with severe maladaptive behaviors and that have not had their licenses revoked.

Florida Developmental Disabilities Council Executive Director Valerie Breen said her group is closely watching the bills because of concerns they could encourage overdevelopment of institutions for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.