Florida is known to have some of the broadest public records laws in the country. That extended to nursing home abuse and neglect records, kept by state health regulators. However, as The Miami Herald recently reported, those records have been wiped from the state’s online database, in what appears to be an erosion in public records access.
Approximately three months ago, The Herald reported, the state scrubbed its website, which previously made readily accessible reports of nursing home violations that put residents in immediate jeopardy. It’s not that the records themselves are no longer public. Anyone can contact the Agency for Health Care Administration and ask for it. However, you have to know exactly what you’re looking for and whom to ask. You will most likely be required to wait and you’ll probably have to pay – something that was not required previously under the state’s online system.
On the pages that previously provided such information for free, the AHCA now directs the public to a different site run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That site fails to provide as much detail as the AHCA had before (though all reports had been screened and redacted for medical privacy). And while the AHCA does offer basic spreadsheets that rank nursing homes on a host of criteria, providing families with some basis on which to compare, but these reports are scant on details and lack transparency. Continue reading →