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AARP presses DeSantis to veto bill cutting minimum levels for CNAs at nursing homes

Zayne Smith is director of advocacy for AARP in Florida. Image: Via Zoom call
Zayne Smith is director of advocacy for AARP in Florida. Image: Via Zoom call

AARP is pressing Governor Ron DeSantis to veto a bill that would slash the minimum staffing level for certified nursing assistants in nursing homes by 20 percent.

The nonpartisan organization with millions of members 50 and older is making the issue a top priority.

Zayne Smith, associate state director of advocacy for AARP in Florida, says representatives met with the governor's staff to show why minimum nursing standards are critical to quality of care. They've launched TV and digital ads driving calls to the governor asking him to veto House Bill 1239.

"So what's the big deal if we reduce this minimum number," Smith said Thursday. "Well, the big deal is exactly what we fear is that the quality of care in facilities will degrade and significantly."

Smith says it's so important -- in Florida and across the country -- that AARP's CEO has written an op-ed that will be published soon.

They have 38 million members -- including three million in Florida -- and they all vote, Smith said. "Obviously in two more years, when we have another presidential race, there's going to be implications. And one of the things AARP will do is remind voters not only in Florida but across the country how certain people act on issues that are of primary importance to our members. And this is one of our top priorities."

The nursing home industry sought the bill, citing the need for flexibility during a staffing crisis.

Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.