Post-Irma death toll at Florida SNF rises to 9 as provider sues state to stop Medicaid ban

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The death toll from the Florida skilled nursing facility that lost its air conditioning following Hurricane Irma rose to nine residents on Tuesday, as the provider geared up for a legal battle with state officials over its loss of Medicaid funding.

Carlos Canal, 93, is the ninth resident from The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills whose death officials have blamed on the soaring temperatures inside the Hollywood, FL facility after the air conditioning went out. Canal died of pneumonia with a 105 degree fever, his daughter told the Miami Herald.

This week also brought continued vitriol between The Rehabilitation Center and Florida Governor Rick Scott's (R) administration.

The provider filed a lawsuit late Tuesday requesting an injunction against the state's orders to cut Medicaid funding from the facility, claiming the abrupt funding cut and admissions moratorium violated its due process, according to a news service report.

“With the stroke of a pen, [the Agency for Health Care Administration] has effectively shut down Hollywood Hills as a nursing home provider in Broward County,” the suit reads. “These illegal and improper administrative orders took effect immediately and without any opportunity for the facility to defend itself against unfounded allegations.”

The lawsuit also argues that the facility followed its emergency preparedness plans while dealing with the air conditioning loss. Scott disputed that claim in a statement issued Tuesday, saying the facility erred in not calling 911 sooner or evacuating residents to its partner hospital.

“No amount of finger pointing by the Hollywood Hills Rehabilitation Facility … will hide the fact that this healthcare facility failed to do their basic duty to protect life,” Scott said. “Through the investigation, we need to understand why the facility made the decision to put patients in danger, whether they were adequately staffed, where they placed cooling devices and how often they checked in on their patients.”