Florida budget writers decided to cut nursing home reimbursement 5% this fiscal year, starting July 1, during deliberations Saturday night. Florida has long been a bellwether state regarding nursing homes nationally.

Recognizing homes are required to increase staff under another law passed in 2002, state House and Senate legislators agreed to delay the required staffing increases until July 2005. The law requires an incremental increase in the number of certified nursing assistants.

Lawmakers could vote on the budget by Thursday. The state’s legislative session is scheduled to end Friday.