Senate Minority Leader Oscar Braynon wants to create a $10 million program that would reimburse trauma centers for care provided to victims of mass shootings, and Senate President Joe Negron said he will support the effort.
Braynon wants to create a fund in the Attorney General’s Office, with money coming from a portion of fees collected from new or renewed concealed-weapons licenses. The program would reimburse trauma centers that treat victims of mass shootings, such as the Feb. 14 attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that left 17 people dead.
Braynon, a Miami Gardens Democrat, initially wanted to attach the proposal to a bill (SB 1876) that is a carefully constructed deal that could end years of litigation between hospital systems about approval of trauma centers. But Braynon withdrew a proposed amendment to the bill Thursday, saying the proposal could be included in gun policies the Senate will consider in the coming weeks and that he didn’t want to affect what he called the “tenuous” trauma bill.
Negron, a Stuart Republican, said earlier in the day he supported Braynon’s efforts but didn’t want to include a funding request in a bill that focused on trauma center regulation.
The Legislature has wrangled for years over whether to continue with current trauma-system regulations or to allow a more competitive environment that would increase the number of trauma facilities.
The legislation moving ahead is a compromise between long-standing trauma providers and the for-profit HCA Healthcare, which has sought in recent years to open trauma centers at many of its hospitals. The House is advancing similar legislation.
Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley, an Orange Park Republican, thanked Braynon for understanding that the trauma compromise “deals with so many issues that all of us, Republicans and Democrats agree” should occur.
The Appropriations Committee voted 17-3 to approve the bill, with opposition from Braynon, Sen. Lauren Book, a Plantation Democrat, and Sen. Anitere Flores, a Miami Republican.
Negron told reporters earlier in the day he met with two Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students who sustained grievous injuries but had survived because of the quality of the care they received following the shooting.
“I am very impressed and gratified by the incredible quality of our trauma units, our surgeons, what they’ve been able to do to save lives, which they’ve done,” Negron said when asked whether he supports Braynon’s request.
“Those kinds of heroic efforts should certainly be rewarded because they are extremely expensive but worthwhile,” Negron said.
The school attack was the fourth mass shooting in Florida in the past 20 months where trauma centers were activated.
Following the June 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting, for example, Orlando Regional Medical Center treated 35 patients at its trauma center.
Lee Memorial Hospital activated its mass-casualty trauma team in response to a shooting at Fort Myers’ Club Blu in July 2016, and Broward Medical Center activated its mass-casualty team in response to the January 2017 mass shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami is also home to South Florida’s only freestanding pediatric trauma center.
But bill sponsor Dana Young, a Tampa Republican, said the bill provides “much-needed certainty that we need to make sure that excellent level of care is available as we move forward as a state as we grow.”