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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – A Republican state senator – and funeral director – is suggesting that a South Florida nursing home may not be to blame for 14 deaths that occurred in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, said Wednesday he isn’t convinced that all 14 deaths now associated with The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills stemmed from sweltering heat that filled the nursing home after it lost power following the powerful storm.

“Look at the population. You’re dealing with the 90-somethings. Some of these deaths would naturally occur, storm or no storm,” Baxley said Wednesday at the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, adding “eventually everyone who was in that nursing home will die. But we don’t need to attribute those all to the storm and bad policy.”

Baxley became one of the few politicians to take a different stance following the high-profile deaths at the South Florida nursing home. Many leaders, including Gov. Rick Scott, have sharply criticized the nursing home. A criminal investigation is underway.

Baxley made his comments during a meeting where legislators reviewed actions taken by Scott in the wake of the deaths. Eight residents died Sept. 13, three days after the air-conditioning system went out. Six others died subsequently after being evacuated.

On Sept. 16, Scott’s administration issued emergency rules that require nursing homes and assisted living facilities to have enough emergency power to keep facilities at temperatures at or below 80 degrees for four days.

The proposed emergency rules gave facilities 45 days to submit their plans to the state and 60 days to implement the plans. Nursing homes have estimated that it could cost upward of $350,000 to have generators large enough for a 120-bed nursing home.

Industry groups LeadingAge Florida, the Florida Assisted Living Association and

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