Matt Willhite bill would expand patients’ access to prescription drugs after hospital release

Patients could receive prescription drugs from a hospital for at least two days after discharge.

Rep. Matt Willhite, a Wellington Democrat, is once again filing legislation aimed at providing prescription drugs to hospital patients even after they’ve been discharged.

The legislation (HB 29) gives hospitals the authority to continue dispensing prescription drugs to patients for up to 48 hours. That period would be extended if a patient is released during a holiday period.

“Imagine leaving a hospital at 2 a.m., and there isn’t a pharmacy open to fill your prescription,” Willhite explained in a Wednesday statement announcing the legislation. “Perhaps you are discharged on a holiday weekend and again, there is not an open pharmacy nearby. My bill will ensure that patients won’t have to face this problem.”

The legislation, appropriately titled “Dispensing Medical Drugs,” would go into effect on July 1, 2021, should it be successful during next year’s Legislative Session and be signed into law.

Willhite filed a similar bill during last year’s Session. It earned unanimous approval in three House committees — the Health Quality Subcommittee, the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee and the Health and Human Services Committee. The bill died on the House floor, however.

The precise wording in Willhite’s bill allows a hospital to continue dispensing prescriptions to a discharged patient for either “up to 48 hours” or “through the end of the next business day, whichever is greater.” As Willhite explains, that change aims to ensure patients are not left without an option to obtain necessary medication.

During a state of emergency, “a supply of a medicinal drug that will last up to 72 hours may be prescribed and dispensed” as well, according to the bill.

Last Session, Willhite was behind a measure that permitted pharmacies to set up kiosks to dispense medication, so long as those drugs are not controlled substances. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law in June.

Willhite frames HB 29 as another necessary piece of legislation to modernize the state’s prescription drug laws.

“About one thousand people move to the state of Florida every day, and as our state continues to grow we must come up with innovative solutions that expand health care to all Floridians,” Willhite said.

“HB 29 — Dispensing Medicinal Drugs — would be one such solution by providing patients with continued treatment without any lost time, helping them stay pain-free until they can get their prescriptions from the pharmacy.”

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected]

One comment

  • Sonja Fitch

    December 3, 2020 at 5:05 am

    Many years ago when health care was to protect and provide healthcare, folks left with enough medication to last til first doctor visit after discharge. Healthcare has to be a SERVICE guaranteed for all! Controlling costs has to be established! Stop making MONEY and profits as the damn end result! The balance of common good shall be the outcomes. The pandemic is demanding healthcare for all! Not Just Profits for a few!

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