Senate, House panels move similar telehealth bills
More medicical cannibus patients in Florida, but fewer doctors are available to recommend.

Doctor writing on prescription blank and bottle with medical can
Proposed telehealth changes in Florida would make it easier to fill prescriptions.

House and Senate panels moved bills Thursday morning to change Florida’s telehealth laws and make it easier for providers to treat patients.

The bills are similar but not identical. The difference comes down to whether registered telehealth providers can use telephones to treat their patients.

The Senate version of the bill (SB 312) strikes the prohibition in current law that bans the use of “audio only” devices for telehealth. It cleared the Senate Rules Committee.

The House’s version of the measure (HB 17) keeps the ban on telephones intact. The House Professions & Public Health Subcommittee approved its version Thursday morning.

Jacksonville laywer and Tallahassee lobbyist Chris Nuland said physicians have agreed to support the more limited House bill and won’t press to change the law regarding the use of telehealth.

After years of debate, the Florida Legislature in 2019 approved the use of telehealth for Florida-licensed physicians, practitioners licensed under a multistate health care licensure compact of which Florida is a member, and out-of-state health care providers who register with the state.

Fearful of potential abuse, lawmakers had taken a limited approach in allowing providers to use telehealth to prescribe medicines, permitting it only for psychiatric patients, hospice patients, hospital inpatients and nursing home residents. Meanwhile, both bills allow telehealth providers to issue a renewal prescription for controlled substances listed Schedule III, IV and V via telehealth.

Schedule III substances have a potential for abuse and are currently accepted for medical use in the United States. Schedule IV substances include benzodiazepines and barbiturates. Schedule V substances include mixtures of substances that can contain small quantities of opiates, narcotics, or stimulants.

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


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