Consumer Voice Calls Florida Ombudsman Resignation a ‘Severe Blow’ to Program

The ousting of Brian Lee, former director of the Florida Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, last week “dealt a severe blow” to the program’s independence, according to a statement released by advocacy group Consumer Voice, which said it was “shocked” by the event.

“Lee was asked to resign after he asked the state's nursing homes for names of companies and individuals with an ownership and operational interest in their facilities,” the statement read. State ombudsmen have been given authority under the Affordable Care Act to request this information from Medicare and Medicaid-funded nursing homes under transparency provisions. A summary of the ownership data will be reported on the Nursing Home Compare Web site starting in 2012.

“Brian was recognized by his colleagues in Florida and nationally for his commitment to protecting the rights of long-term care residents and working with residents, families and providers to improve care,” said Sarah F. Wells, Consumer Voice executive director, in the statement.

“We are very concerned that the governor of Florida has yielded to industry demands to dismiss an effective advocate for residents in a state that so many elderly Americans choose as their retirement home,” Wells said. “As a national voice for long-term care residents, we strongly urge the governor to follow the law and allow the ombudsman program to operate without interference.”

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