Joel Rudman says doctors shouldn’t be forced to sign noncompete clauses
Three days is long enough for Joel Rudman. Image via Colin Hackley/Florida Politics.

Doctors may not united behind the bill.

Navarre physician and Rep. Joel Rudman doesn’t generally support President Joe Biden’s policies. But Rudman, like Biden, wants to ban the use of noncompete clauses.

While Biden wants to ban noncompete clauses for all workers, Rudman only wants to ban them in health care contracts — and only for medical doctors and osteopathic doctors.

“I’m striking a blow for the doctors with this bill. We’re going to level the playing field for doctors, and we’re going to let physicians know that they are wanted in the state of Florida, and they don’t have to leave the state to build a successful practice,” Rudman told Florida Politics.

To that end, Rudman filed HB 11 this week. 

The two-page bill amends state statutes to make clear that covenants which prohibit physicians from practicing medicine within a geographic area for any period after the termination of a contract, partnership, employment, or professional relationship are “not supported by a legitimate business interest,” and therefore are “void and unenforceable.”

Noncomplete clauses impact 1 in 5 Americans, according to the Biden administration. And they have become commonplace in the health care industry, with physicians and nurses routinely asked to sign them.

Health care lawyer Christopher Nuland said the push to ban noncompete clauses for physicians isn’t a new idea. The Florida Medical Association’s House of Delegates debated the merits of the idea last year, but ultimately didn’t adopt it, Nuland said.

That’s because not all physicians agree with it.

“It’s going to be very interesting. It’s going to be a generational fight. I don’t think you’re going to see medicine united one way or the other on this,” Nuland said.

“If you’re in a senior position, and you’ve worked hard to establish your practice for 20 years, you want to protect that practice. If you’re a younger physician, moving to a new area, you don’t want to have to move because you don’t get along with your boss. So, the battle lines will likely be generational. And not by specialty or anything else.”

Rudman acknowledged that the move is not universally supported by doctors. He was at the Florida Medical Association’s annual conference in Orlando when he announced he was going to file the bill. “A couple of physicians, a couple big wigs, who own practices came and grabbed me after and said, ‘This isn’t going to be good for me.’”

But Rudman insists that the move is good for Florida physicians and their patients. And he predicts the opposition will come from what he calls “corporate practices” such as those owned by hospitals.

“This is the right and just thing to do. You don’t own doctors. We do not live in times of slavery anymore. Freedom is for everyone,” he said.

Indeed, for Rudman this is just the latest “freedom” proposal. Last year, Rudman sponsored legislation in the House that allows insurers and providers to have the right to refuse health care that is at odds with their moral religious or ethical beliefs. Gov. Ron DeSantis supported the proposal.

Meanwhile, Rudman downplayed the connection between his bill and the Biden administration’s move to ban noncompete contracts.

“I’m actually going to be the one who’s going to get it done. I doubt they are,” he said. “I’m from the reddest district in the state. Everybody’s welcome on my bandwagon.”

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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