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House sends Senate a variety of health care cost-saving measures

The Florida House sent several bills to the Senate seeking to cut health care costs by changing laws regulating health providers.

On Wednesday, the House passed a number of bills:

  • HB 37, which restores the patient-physician relationship through the use of Direct Primary Care;
  • HB 85, extending the length of time a patient can stay in a recovery care center;
  • HB 423, allowing Advanced Nurse Practitioners and Physicians Assistants to prescribe certain medications;
  • HB 1061, removing barriers to attract nurses into the state;
  • HB 1175, which increases health care transparency for consumers; and
  • HB 7087, which encourages the use of telehealth as way to increase health care access while reducing costs.

“Florida’s health care system faces a critical problem in the form of out-of-control and unjustifiable costs and the need for greater access to care for the uninsured,” said House Speaker Steve Crisafulli in a statement. “Our free-market approach prioritizes patient choice, competition, and flexibility to reign in those costs and expand access to quality health care for Florida’s hardworking families.”

LobbyTools reports that HB 7087, allowing both in and out-of-state health professionals to utilize telehealth, passed the House 114-3. The bill was amended Tuesday to create an advisory council, which will report to state lawmakers on ways to implement telehealth practices. A Senate version (SB 1686) is also up for a final vote.

“The House is focused on providing common sense reforms based on free-market principals to reduce costs and improve access to health care,” Health Care Appropriations Chairman Matt Hudson said of the series of bills. “The best long-term solution for health care in Florida is to eliminate unnecessary regulations and attack cost drivers while maintaining a strong safety net for those truly in need.”

HB 85 would allow overnight stays at ambulatory surgical centers and creates “recovery care” centers that can keep patients up to 72 hours, passed the House 82-34. The extension seeks to boost competition with hospitals for providing similar services, saving consumers money. However, LobbyTools noted a possible negative impact on hospitals that feel the pinch from recent cuts in federal funding. Last week, the Senate counterpart to HB 85 was incorporated into an omnibus health bill from Sen. Don Gaetz. SB 132 differs from the House bill by allowing ASCs to keep patients 24 hours and does not create RCCs.

The House also unanimously passed HB 37, which permits direct primary agreements, where patients contract with a doctor instead of using an insurance company. Before the vote, the bill was amended to include chiropractors. Lawmakers also added provisions for contracts are not health insurance and do not meet the minimum coverage requirements to avoid tax penalties under the Affordable Care Act. LobbyTools writes that the bill’s Senate counterpart (SB 132) has not yet made it to the chamber floor.

HB 1175, a priority of Gov. Rick Scott, seeks to boost transparency of health costs by creating an all-claims database. The bill, in part, requires the Agency for Health Care Administration to contract a vendor to develop a consumer-friendly database for comparing price and quality information of health providers. But the Senate version (SB 1496), mandates the selection of suppliers “through a competitive procurement process,” leading LobbyTools to speculate that the Health Care Cost Institute would be first in line.

Under HB 1061, Florida would join 25 other states to recognize nursing licenses mutually. A similar Senate Bill (SB 1316) passed all committees and is now waiting for a vote in the full Senate.

The House also passed an omnibus health bill (HB 977) to address a workforce shortage in behavioral health, a proposal similar to SB 1250 — which awaits action by the full Senate.

“The health care bills passed by the House today propose innovative ways to increase access, reduce costs, and improve the quality of health care in our state,” said House Health and Human Services Committee Chair Jason Brodeur, “to ensure Floridians can get the care they need.”

Written By

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist, editor and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing, reporting and management experience, Phil produced content for both print and online, in addition to founding several specialty websites, including HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range included covering news, local government and entertainment reviews for Patch.com, technical articles, and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine as well as advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as editor and production manager for Extensive Enterprises Media since 2013 and lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul. He can be reached at phil.ammann@gmail.com.

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