Florida ombudsman ousted after asking nursing homes for detailed ownership information

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Gov. Rick Scott (R) fired the director of Florida's Long-term Care Ombudsman Program, Brian Lee, suddenly on Monday. Lee, who had held this position for seven years, had recently asked Florida's 677 nursing homes to submit detailed information regarding ownership stakes.

Although an official reason for Lee's dismissal was not announced, operators and nursing home advocates had complained that the Feb. 27 deadline Lee gave for turning in detailed ownership information was much too soon. Lee said the request was authorized under new federal healthcare legislation, adding that the documents would promote transparency and accountability, the Miami Herald reported.  

LuMarie Polivka-West, a leader of the Florida Health Care Association, however, told the newspaper that the Feb. 27 deadline caught her by surprise. She added that no other state's ombudsman had requested this information of providers yet.

Lee reportedly had a rocky relationship with some nursing home operators, who felt his inspections were too critical. The Florida Assisted Living Association once became angry with him, for example, when he asked them to prove their facilities had large enough supplies of food and water in the event of a hurricane, the newspaper reported.