Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Credit: Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Florida’s nearly 700 nursing homes are in line for additional help in the ongoing workforce crisis, thanks to several key actions by lawmakers this legislative session. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Monday said there will be “a lot of nursing homes that are very, very happy” while marking the end of the 2022 legislative session. It saw lawmakers advance loosened staffing standards and a nearly $300 million increase in Medicaid funding for providers. 

Florida’s $112 billion state budget for the 2022-2023 fiscal year was approved Monday. Lawmakers included a 7.8% increase in Medicaid funding for nursing homes. That amounts to an additional $293 million in funding, or about $419,000 per facility. The state’s new fiscal year starts July 1. 

DeSantis said the hope is that the increase will allow nursing homes to increase hourly pay rates for certified nursing assistants. 

“This will help us begin to address the workforce challenges that are impacting our ability to meet the needs of our aging seniors and people with disabilities.” Emmett Reed, CEO of the Florida Health Care Association, said Monday. “This much-needed funding increase will help our care centers support their front-line caregivers and compete in the labor market.

The governor is also expected to sign HB 1239, which reduces the minimum number of hours of direct care per resident day provided by CNAs from 2.5 to 2. It also accounts for time other workers, including therapists, have spent with residents.

“We are in a situation where it is very hard to find staff,” DeSantis said. “You have people who are making $10 an hour. It’s hard to get people to be able to do that, so being able to increase those rates, I think, will really help with staffing across the board.”