After 14 years, SNF construction ban officially lifted

In anticipation of a swelling elderly population and the possible boost to the state's economy, Florida has ended a 14-year moratorium and approved permits to build 22 new skilled nursing facilities across the state.

The permits also will allow for a number of expansion projects at 11 facilities, according to the Orlando Sentinel. All told, the approved projects represent $400 million in construction across 25 counties and the addition of 2,600 beds. Nearly one-quarter of the beds will be spread across four newly planned homes and three expanded facilities in Lake, Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties.

Before any ground is broken, however, legal challenges may be filed. More than 100 applicants were vying for the new construction, and not everyone is pleased with the selection process, or the location of the approved units.

The new or expanded facilities will feature more private rooms, interior courtyards and activity spaces in deference to the changing demands of the aging baby boomers, Tony Marshall, senior director of reimbursement at Florida Health Care Association, told the newspaper.

The moratorium was imposed in 2001 by the Florida Legislature to mitigate the impact from the state's escalating Medicaid spending, as well as what was seen as an effort to encourage more community-based facilities. The state's new Medicaid-managed care program was a catalyst for lifting the ban.

In lifting the moratorium, the state told the Agency for Health Care Administration it could license a maximum of 3,750 new beds and issue no additional certificates of need for nursing-home beds until after June 30, 2017.