Sunshine State Getting Set to Issue Home Care Licenses
Home medical equipment operators in Florida celebrated the passage of their licensure bill on May 29. Beginning Jan. 1, approximately 1,400 companies that distribute home medical equipment in the Sunshine State must meet state requirements to obtain a license.
“We’re actually very excited,” said Brent Soward, CRT. “This is another way for our industry to gain some legitimacy.” Soward, vice president of the Tampa branch of Home Health Care of America, recently attended two workshops that explained the licensing process.
Companies will pay a fee of $300 for the license, which will be valid for two years. Companies needing an on-site inspection will pay an additional $400.
Brian Seeley, owner of Seeley Medical Inc., of Ormond Beach, Fla., and president of the Florida Association of Medical Equipment Services (FAMES), worked with colleagues for three years to get the legislation passed.
“It passed without any modification,” he said proudly. “It’s a great piece of legislation. Other states should look at this as a model.” Florida joined about a dozen other states that license the medical equipment industry.
Florida companies already licensed or accredited by other legitimate agencies will be exempt from on-site inspections. Seeley’s company, for example, is accredited by the Joint Commission for
the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. Companies that distribute oxygen will also be exempt because they are licensed by the state Board of Pharmacy.
“Our goal is not to over-regulate any particular industry,” Seeley explained.
The bill also requires background checks on company executives and care providers who go into patient homes. Seeley and his CFO will submit to a fingerprint test while caregivers and delivery staff will undergo a Level 2 background check. State officials will red-flag executives convicted of crimes like Medicare fraud. Employees who deliver direct care must have a clean slate.
“It would take a very severe infraction to stop someone from working,” Seeley explained.
Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration will oversee the licensure program. Initially, FAMES members had to educate state officials about the nature of their business. For example, the first draft of the bill addressed the home health industry not the medical equipment industry.
-By Francie Scott