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Get the latest coverage of the 2023 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee from our coverage partners and 90.7 WMFE.

Bills would limit lawsuits against nursing homes in Florida

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The regular session of the Florida Legislature convenes on Tuesday.

In the Florida legislative session beginning Tuesday, two Republican bills would significantly limit lawsuits against nursing homes in cases of neglect or wrongful death.

House Bill 1029 andSenate Bill 1304 strip children of seniors who die from neglect of the right to claim anything more than economic damages, tighten the rules around expert witnesses and exempt passive investors from liability.

Zayne Smith, advocacy director for AARP Florida, opposes the changes, which would come after staffing levels for certified nursing assistants were lowered last year.

"Anybody that is looking for either placement for a loved one or themselves in a nursing home should be very concerned about what's happening in Florida, as it relates to the quality of care and accountability measures in place," Smith said.

The bills are part of wider tort reforms, which limit lawsuits seeking damages.

"Whether or not this piece has enough leverage to move forward," Smith said, "we sure hope it does not. We hope people raise their voice and fight against this and, you know, convince lawmakers that this would be absolutely terrible for residents in nursing homes."

The Florida Health Care Association, which represents hundreds of long-term care centers, says the bills will give those facilities parity with the protections that hospitals and doctors have.

In a priorities statement, FHCA says it is "asking the Legislature to support SB 1304/HB 1029 to address the problem of nuclear verdicts, bring fairness to the system and help long term care centers keep precious resources focused on meeting the needs of residents."

Joe Byrnes came to Central Florida Public Media from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.
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