These 14 new Florida health care laws take effect July 1

health care spending
There's a bevy of new laws that will take effect July 1.

The longest day of the year has passed and July 4 is just around the corner, which means at least one thing: There’s a bevy of new laws that will take effect July 1.

Chief among them is a new law pushed by the nursing home industry that allows nursing homes to employ lay people as “personal care assistants” and — for four consecutive months — count their on-the-job training toward minimum, state-mandated staffing requirements.

Prior to working with residents, personal-care attendants must complete a 16-hour education course developed by the state Agency for Health Care Administration. The industry hopes on-the job training will serve as a glide path to certified nurse assistant careers.

The new law essentially makes permanent a “personal care assistant” program that former AHCA Secretary Mary Mayhew authorized in a March 2020 emergency order. Mayhew, however, only required personal care attendants to take an eight-hour education class before caring for residents.

The nursing home industry, which faced staffing shortages prior to the pandemic, has touted the program as a win-win for Florida and for nursing home residents.

“We thank Governor DeSantis for signing this important legislation, which will not only provide more career opportunities for Floridians but also addresses the workforce shortage that our long term care facilities have been dealing with throughout the state,” Florida Health Care Association Chief Executive Officer Emmett Reed said in a prepared statement.

AARP Florida flagged concerns about the bill during the legislative session, but the organization came up short against the powerful nursing home industry. On Friday, AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson blasted Republican leaders for embracing the proposal.

“The global pandemic merely exposed the ongoing failures of Florida nursing homes, and instead of looking for ways to fix a broken system, state policymakers have given the nursing home industry another opportunity to cut corners,” Johnson said in a statement. Johnson said the law will “decrease the quality of care provided in Florida nursing homes at a time when COVID-19 has made it clear that the opposite needs to occur.”

Some other bills signed into law that become effective Thursday include:

–HB 17: Requires podiatric physicians to complete a two-hour continuing education course on safe and effective prescribing of controlled substances as a part of the 40 hours of continuing professional education required for biennial licensure renewal.

–HB 183: Requires the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity to develop and to promote statewide implementation of policies, programs, and practices that increase health equity for racial and ethnic minority populations in Florida.

–SB 262: Authorizes certain hospitals to dispense supplies of prescribed medicinal drugs in a specified amount to emergency department patients or inpatients upon discharge under certain circumstances.

HB 431: Broadens the scope of practice for a physician assistant and deletes a requirement that a physician assistant inform his or her patients that they have the right to see a physician before the physician assistant prescribes or dispenses a prescription.

–SB 716: Clarifies a 2020 law on consent for pelvic exams by revising the term “pelvic examination” and makes clear that certain health care practitioners and students need only obtain written consent for the initial pelvic examination for certain patients under certain circumstances.

–SB 768: Authorizes certain pharmacists to administer influenza vaccines to individuals aged seven and older.

–SB 804: Provides criminal penalties for making certain false representations or omissions of material facts when applying for alcohol and substance abuse service provider licenses.

–HB 905: Authorizes AHCA, in consultation with the Department of Elderly Affairs, to approve the new program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly.

–HB 1157: Prohibits a hospital-based, off-campus emergency department from holding itself out to the public as an urgent care center.

–HB 1189: Requires county health departments to participate in sexual assault response teams coordinated by certified rape crisis centers.

–HB 1381: Requires the Department of Health to establish telehealth minority maternity-care pilot programs in Duval and Orange counties and provides for funding of pilot programs.

–SB 1786: Makes sweeping changes to the Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation program, including increasing the maximum amount that may be awarded to parents or legal guardians from $100,000 to $250,000.

–SB 1934: Requires DOH to suspend health care practitioners’ licenses if they enter a criminal plea to, or are convicted or found guilty of, a felony relating to homicide or are arrested for possessing child pornography or soliciting prostitution, among other things.

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