A judge has ruled that Florida Gov. Rick Scott cannot order assisted living communities or skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) to install generators, citing the lack of emergency conditions.
Administrative Law Judge Garnett Chisenhall of Florida’s Division of Administrative Hearings invalidated the rule on Oct. 27 on the grounds that Scott “failed to demonstrate the existence of an immediate danger.”
Scott called the judge’s ruling “disappointing” and vowed to appeal the decision, according to the Miami Herald.
Scott’s order, issued on Sept. 16, gave SNFs and assisted living communities 60 days to install generators and stock enough fuel to last 96 hours following a power outage. The emergency action also required providers to submit their new generators to inspections by fire marshals, and provide local officials with detailed disaster plans.
The rule came in the aftermath of a power failure at a Hollywood, Florida, SNF that led to the deaths of 14 residents in reportedly sweltering temperatures.
Industry groups LeadingAge Florida, the Florida Association of Assisted Living Facilities and Florida Argentum opposed the rule in court weeks ago.
Though Argentum agreed in principle with the rules, it expressed concerns with the feasibility of the timeline, according to Paul Williams, the organization’s vice president of government relations.
“We feel this gives us an opportunity to look at this realistically,” Williams told Senior Housing News. “We also felt some relief that it wouldn’t be rushed into a very tight and unrealistic 60-day window.”
However, the issue is “far from resolved,” Argentum said in an email. The organization plans to work with members of the state legislature to craft a solution that makes sense to its members.
“We don’t take it as being final by any means,” Williams said. “But I think we’ve got a good starting point.”
Written by Tim Regan