Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday signed a bill that would put to rest years of legal and regulatory fights over the state’s trauma center system.
HB 1165, sponsored by Panama City Republican Rep. Jay Trumbull, in part aims to stem the flow of litigation against the state’s Department of Health, charged with reviewing the need for new centers and approving them.
Tampa Republican Sen. Dana Young, who chairs the Senate Health Policy Committee, sponsored the companion bill, SB 1876.
The number of trauma centers in Florida is capped at 44 across 19 trauma-service areas, with 34 currently operating. The new law cuts the number of trauma-service areas to 18 and states no area may have more than a total of five trauma centers.
It also directs DOH to set up an advisory council for the trauma care system and codifies a formula for approving new trauma centers.
Proponents of the plan say more trauma centers make for better access for patients coming in with gravely serious injuries. Opponents, which include those operating the state’s 34 trauma centers, say the facilities are expensive to operate and more centers could put the thumbscrews on existing ones.
Hospital company HCA would have three trauma centers grandfathered in by the bill – one each in Miami, Orlando and Orange Park – though the new law blocks the company’s plans to add a trauma center to Northside Hospital in St. Petersburg.
Scott signed HB 1165 alongside another 37 bills.