The vision of Florida's quality improvement programs, as expressed upon the passage of SB 1202, was to bring about an improvement in quality of care through a combination of risk management and internal quality assurance along with increased oversight and guidance to facilities. With liability insurance either unaffordable or not available, lawsuits affecting virtually all the long term entities in the state, and bankruptcies affecting 22 percent of skilled facilities, measures to deal with both the litigation crisis and quality of care problems in facilities were believed necessary to ensure the viability of the long term care industry in the state. FPECA staff we spoke with expressed the idea that the Task Force sought to "marry" the issues of quality of care in nursing homes, liability and insurance and home and community-based care.
During our visit, there was much discussion among stakeholders regarding the relationship between quality improvement and risk management, and the relative importance of each component. Providers stated that the quality of a nursing home had little effect on the number of lawsuits brought against it. Consumer advocates expressed the opinion that it was "embarrassing" to think that controlling litigation would bring about quality improvement. However, most participants expressed agreement with the Task Force that it was not appropriate to address the liability crisis separately from quality reforms.