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Senate keeps national accreditation requirement from House opioid bill

The Senate appears to be lining up behind the sole-source continuing education requirements in the opioid bill passed by the House last week, according to a newly-filed amendment.

HB 21 contains a number of provisions aimed at putting a dent in the opioid epidemic, including limits on prescriptions and new reporting requirements to prevent doctor shopping.

Among those new rules is a requirement that every physician authorized to prescribe controlled substances take a continuing ed course on opioids every two years from “a statewide professional association of physicians in this state.”

Some fuss was made over the provision when the House passed the bill last week.

Avon Park Republican Rep. Cary Pigman, who is also a physician, said at the time that the language would force every physician in Florida to take the course from either the Florida Medical Association or the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association.

That same language is still present in a late-filed amendment to the House bill that attempts to bring it more in line with the Senate version.

Fort Myers Republican Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, who filed the amendment, is also the sponsor of the Senate version of the bill.

SB 8 always required the continuing education course, but never required it to be administered by a “statewide professional association.” The bill only required the course to be “board approved.”

All Florida physicians must take continuing education courses to maintain their licenses, but only a handful of the required hours are mandated to cover specific topics, and none are required to be completed through specific vendors.

The Florida Board of Medicine grants CME credit for courses so long as they are accredited by the American Medical Association or the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

Many physicians take such courses at no charge through grand rounds presentations hosted by their employer. Many universities also allow physicians in private practice to attend those presentations, or for out-of-town alumni to check in via videoconferencing.

But FMA and FOMA charge for the courses they offer.

Pigman said last week that courses he’s taken through the associations have carried a $100 charge for members and $200 charge for non-members, meaning HB 21 could lead to a significant windfall for FMA and FOMA.

“What we are saying is [the associations] will get revenue of $4.4 million to $8.8 million every two years, which is probably why they support this bill. So when we vote for it with this piece in it, that’s what we are voting for,” he said.

Written By

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.

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