The Florida Capitol building
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A proposal that would implement relaxed staffing requirements for Florida’s nearly 700 nursing homes cleared a crucial legislative hurdle on Wednesday on its path toward full approval. 

The Florida House Health & Human Services Committee approved HB 1239 nearly two weeks after the legislation gained key support from the House Finance & Facilities Subcommittee. The bill is now ready for a full House vote before heading to the Senate. 

In Florida, certified nursing assistants are required to provide a minimum of 2.5 hours of direct care per resident day under current law. The measure would reduce that staffing requirement to 2 hours and also take into account time other workers, including therapists, have spent with residents.  

CNAs and licensed nurses are also required to provide a weekly average of 3.6 hours of direct care per patient per day. The legislation would allow time spent by other workers, like therapists, to be factored into that weekly average. 

“We’re in the midst of a staffing crisis and what that means is that we have to think differently about how we provide direct care staffing in the nursing home environment to ensure that residents get the quality care they deserve,” Steve Bahmer, LeadingAge Florida President and CEO, said following the vote. 

Long-term care providers across several states have pushed for assistance with staffing amid severe workforce shortages exacerbated by the public health crisis. In Virginia, lawmakers rejected a push to implement minimum staffing requirements in nursing homes.