Veterinary telemedicine proposal clears Senate Ag. Committee

Online consultation with veterinarian doctor.
Critics argued telemedicine undoubtedly has its limitations. 

The Senate Agriculture Committee advanced a bill on Wednesday that would authorize veterinary telemedicine in the Sunshine State.

The committee OK’d the proposal (SB 1370) with a unanimous vote. Republican Sen. Anna Maria Rodriguez of Doral is the bill sponsor.

The proposal defines veterinary telemedicine as “the practice of veterinary medicine in a remote setting, including through the use of telephone or audiovisual technology or by other means consistent with the veterinarian’s professional judgment.”

The bill would also allow animal control agents to administer rabies vaccinations to an impounded animal under a veterinarian’s “indirect supervision.”

Currently, state law prohibits veterinary telemedicine before an in-person physical examination.

Rodriguez’s proposal, however, would allow limited veterinary telemedicine without an in-person visit.

“The expansion that we’re putting in place here, the ability for families with a pet to be able to have this telemedicine is so critical and efficient and necessary,” said Republican Sen. Danny Burgess of Zephyrhills.

Under an amendment adopted Wednesday, a veterinarian would be able to examine animals but could not prescribe various controlled substances if the relationship is established remotely.

The bill now moves to the Senate Rules Committee.

The companion bill (HB 911) by Osprey Republican Rep. James Buchanan, passed the House Regulatory Reform Subcommittee earlier this month and is awaiting a hearing in the House Commerce Committee.

Several lawmakers, including Democratic Sen. Loranne Ausley of Tallahassee, said they prefer the amended Senate bill over the House version.

Before the amendment, both bills afforded veterinarians a broader scope of remote care.

Critics argued telemedicine undoubtedly has its limitations.

“I represent so many rural parts of Florida where access is an issue,” Ausley said. “However, the main distinction here is, as we heard and we all know, that animals can’t talk. So, we need to be really cautious how we’re moving forward with this.”

If signed into law, the bill would take effect July 1.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


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