January 10, 2001

TALLAHASSEE — Today, Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) responded favorably to Gov. Jeb Bush’s proposals to assist Florida’s elders.

"Gov. Bush’s Elder-Friendly Initiative will go a long way to improving the quality of care provided to nursing-home residents," said Jon L. Shebel, AIF’s president & CEO. "At the same time, his plan will help resuscitate the state’s failing long-term-care industry."

Included among Bush’s reforms is a proposal that would conform nursing-home litigation to the medical-malpractice laws that apply to all other health-care providers.Shebel called the explosion in litigation against nursing homes and assisted-living facilities the greatest threat to the industry. "Nursing homes that have never been sued have seen their liability premiums double and triple in the last year because of the leniency in the statutes that makes long-term care facilities easy prey for plaintiff lawyers."

AIF’s interest in the long-term-care industry is sparked in part by the anticipated explosion in the costs to government of providing this care. Many employers would like to add long-term-care insurance policies to their menu of employee benefits, a move that would lessen the burden on taxpayers for funding this care.

"If the industry isn’t healthy," Shebel said, "employers won’t be able to afford the policies, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill."

Associated Industries of Florida is a statewide employers association representing 10,000 businesses that range from large multinational corporations to small family-owned enterprises. AIF is commonly known as "The Voice of Florida Business."