Nursing homes would be required to have generators that can power air conditioning for at least 96 hours under a new bill that will be filed this week, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, announced Monday.
The bill also would require utility companies and emergency responders to treat nursing homes as top priorities for restoring power after a hurricane, as they do now with hospitals.
Wasserman Schultz's bill at the federal level dovetails with similar measures being taken up in the Florida Legislature and at the local level, where cities such as Boca Raton and Boynton Beach are considering requiring nursing homes to have generators that power their A/C units.
Gov. Rick Scott issued the generator requirement as an emergency order immediately after 14 people died after The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills lost power during Hurricane Irma.
The nursing home industry pushed back on that rule. Separate court cases have challenged its validity and the necessity of creating the regulation as an emergency order. Last week, a state appeals court sided with Scott in approving the emergency status of the requirement, but the case over the validity of the order is ongoing.
Wasserman Schultz announced her proposed legislation at her office in Sunrise, surrounded by family members of the survivors and victims of the tragedy at the Hollywood, Florida, nursing home.
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