Image of nurses' hands at computer keyboard

Editor’s note: The article headline has been tweaked from its original form to better emphasize the specialist connection.

Proposed legislation in Florida would drop the amount of certified nurse aide care that providers must supply, giving them flexibility to deploy other professionals — a change that has two nursing home advocacy group at odds.

Members of the state’s Senate Health Policy Committee have approved the measure, which would eliminate a daily requirement that nursing homes must provide 3.6 hours of direct patient care each day. Current laws stipulate that 2.5 of those hours need to be delivered by certified nursing assistants.

With the switch, SNFs would instead be required to deliver one hour of nursing care per patient each day and 3.9 hours of “direct care staffing,” the News Service of Florida reported Tuesday. That direct care could possibly be offered by home health or personal care aides, among other options.

J. Emmett Reed, executive direct of the Florida Health Care Association, said the change would give nursing homes leeway to deploy specialists in mental health, respiratory therapy or other professions.

“Florida has always been a leader in nursing home staffing, and the tremendous gains we’ve seen in quality care are a result,” Reed said in a statement. “This good bill makes sense and will keep Florida in the forefront of caring for our state’s aging baby boomers.”

Meanwhile, LeadingAge Florida and the local AARP have fought the measure, arguing that CNA care is crucial for residents. “CNAs are the absolute core of nursing home care,” an AARP Florida lobbyist told the website.

The bill was unanimously approved by the committee, with a House version also in the works. If eventually approved, it would got into effect July 1.