Florida state

Agency for Healthcare Administration supports hospice expansion in Florida


TALLAHASSEE — Florida health care regulators announced this year that the state needs four additional palliative care programs by July 2022 to care for the dying.

This week, however, the State Agency for Health Care Administration gave its provisional approval to twice as much.

The decisions, announced Monday, could bring additional hospice care programs to seven counties in the state, including Broward, Lee and Manatee counties, which were not on a February 5 list of areas requiring new programs. .

But the decisions are not final. Under state regulations, healthcare providers have 21 days after the release of state decisions to file challenges in the state administrative court. Suppliers can challenge agency decisions to reject their claims or decisions to approve competitor claims.

The four areas on February’s list for needed hospice palliative care programs included an area in northeast Florida that includes St. Johns, Duval, Baker, Clay and Nassau counties. The state has given provisional approval to a request submitted by Alleo Health of Florida to open a program in Duval County, according to Monday’s announcement. He rejected so-called “certificate of need” requests submitted by Comassus US of Florida, LLC; Cornerstone Hospice & Palliative Care, Inc .; and OMNI Health Jacksonville, Inc.

In Pinellas County, where the state had said an additional program was needed, the Agency for Health Care Administration approved the request for a certificate of need from Hernando-Pasco Hospice, Inc. Visiting Services caregivers from Pinellas County, Inc .; Cornerstone Hospice & Palliative Care, Inc. and VITAS Healthcare Corp. also submitted requests for the region but were denied.

Brevard County was another area that regulators had targeted for an additional palliative care program. Three vendors competed for the program. The state approved an application submitted by Amedisys Hospice LLC and denied applications submitted by Halifax Hospice Inc. and Seasons Hospice Palliative Care of Northeast Florida.

Catholic Hospice Inc. and Continuum Care of Miami Dade each gained state approval to create a hospice care program in Miami-Dade County, although regulators said only one new program was needed. Claims submitted by Moments Hospice, Inc. and Citadel Healthcare Inc. were denied.

The state had announced the need for a new hospice palliative care program in Seminole County, but it did not approve a program, according to the announcement released Monday.

In contrast, the state had not identified the need for a new palliative care program in Manatee County. But the state approved an application submitted by Affinity Care of Manatee County Inc.

Interest in the new hospice palliative care programs in Lee and Broward counties was more limited, with only one provider submitting an application in each region. Vitas Healthcare Corp. of Florida was approved for a program in Lee County, and Catholic Hospice Inc. was approved for a program in Broward County.

In addition to releasing its palliative care decisions this week, the state announced that it had approved a plan by Premier Living in Seminole County to build a $ 29 million, 71-bed nursing home. Additionally, the state approved an application from Avante Group Inc to transfer its Certificate of Necessity to Build a 121-Bed Nursing Home to Avante in Orange County, LLC.

The Certificate of Need, often referred to as CON, is a controversial regulatory process that its proponents say helps prevent unnecessary and costly service expansions. Critics, however, say the CON process is unnecessary regulation that encourages monopolies.

As part of the CON process, the state first publishes whether there is a need for additional health services, and providers can then submit claims. The Republic-led legislature in 2019 eliminated the CON process for hospitals, but left it untouched for hospice programs, nursing home beds, and facilities that treat people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. .


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