Providers lining up for new hospice facilities in Florida

Holding hands on hospital bed ( ClassicStock/Getty Images)

Thirty-four letters of intent from providers interested in establishing hospice programs were accepted this week by the state Agency for Health Care Administration.

The providers will have until March 31 to submit "certificate of need" applications for four new hospice programs. Letters of intent are not binding, but they are a required step before providers can submit so-called CON applications.

The first step in the CON process is for the state to determine whether there is a need for the service.

The agency on Feb. 2 announced a need for four new hospice programs: one in District 4A, a five-county area in Northeast Florida that includes Duval County; one in District 5B, or Pinellas County; one in District 7A, or Brevard County; and one in District 11, or Miami Dade and Monroe counties.

The state accepted nine letters of intent from providers interested in operating in the Northeast region and nine interested in operating in Pinellas County. It also accepted eight from providers opening a program in Brevard County. Four letters of intent were accepted from providers interested in opening a hospice in Miami-Dade and Monroe.

And despite there being no published need for a new hospice program in other areas, the state also accepted letters of intent from one provider that wants to open a program in Manatee County, or District 6; two providers that want to open a program in Lee County, which is part of District 8C; and one provider that wants to open a hospice program in Broward County, or District 10.