Senate OKs bill allowing more facilities to be designated as behavioral health teaching hospitals

Tampa General Hospital, UF Health Shands Hospital, UF Health Jacksonville and Jackson Memorial Hospital would be the first facilities with the designation.

Florida legislators are moving ahead with another component of Senate President Kathleen Passidomo’s “Live Healthy” agenda, this time by establishing new teaching hospitals specializing in behavioral health education and training.

SB 330 passed the Senate after Republican Sen. Jim Boyd, the bill’s sponsor, agreed once again to alter the legislation. The latest change — said to be agreed to by all parties — allows up to eight facilities to earn the “behavioral teaching hospital” designation and therefore qualify for the additional hundreds of millions in funds associated with the title. The bill next heads to the House, where it is expected to be taken up and passed.

By designating behavioral health teaching hospitals, which would be required to be affiliated with state medical schools, the bill aims to fortify the state’s workforce as well as support a behavioral health education system.

“By utilizing existing partnerships between medical schools and teaching hospitals, and working to create new collaborations, we will identify and designate behavioral health teaching hospitals that provide research, education, and health care services across our state,” Boyd said.

“The innovative strategy outlined in our legislation will not only enhance our behavioral health workforce but advance our goal of making Florida’s system of care the national standard.”

SB 330 is one of several priority health care bills for Passidomo. SB 330, together with SB 7016 and SB 7018, which passed the Legislature by a near unanimous vote, make up what Passidomo refers to as her “Live Healthy” initiative.

As initially filed, SB 330 designated just Tampa General Hospital as a behavioral teaching hospital. As SB 330 moved along, Boyd, working with GOP Rep. Sam Garrison, agreed to also designate UF Health Shands Hospital, UF Health Jacksonville and Jackson Memorial Hospital as behavioral health teaching hospitals.

Lobbyists representing BayCare, Memorial Hospital and other facilities continued to lobby the issue. Boyd this week amended the measure to allow the state Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) to designate up to four other licensed teaching hospitals that meet the criteria as behavioral health teaching hospitals by July 1, 2027.

In doing so, the bill directs AHCA to take into account the “equitable distribution of such hospitals by geographical service area and behavioral health services access.”

The bill was being closely tracked by facilities that weren’t included by name in the initial bill in part because of all the increased funding being made available to behavioral health teaching hospitals. They will annually qualify for $1.5 million in graduate medical education funds and also will qualify for the newly created Training, Education, and Clinicals in Health Funding Program.

But that’s just the beginning.

SB 330 also establishes a three-year, $300 million Behavioral Health Teaching Hospital grant program within AHCA.

Tampa General Hospital, UF Health Shands Hospital, UF Health Jacksonville and Jackson Memorial Hospital could apply for grants during a 30-day application period starting Nov. 1 under the bill. Hospitals that subsequently earn their behavioral health teaching hospital designation would be eligible to apply for grants in Fiscal Years 2025-26 and 2026-27, subject to the availability of funds, beginning Oct. 1.

The grants can be used for operations and expenses, as well as capital outlay costs such as facility renovation and upgrades.

The bill also establishes the Florida Center for Behavioral Health Workforce within the University of South Florida’s Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute (FMHI). The new center will analyze issues of workforce supply and demand in behavioral health professions in the state, including recruitment, retention and other workforce issues.

“Our behavioral health teaching hospitals will train the next generation of professionals in innovative and integrated care for those with behavioral health needs,” Passidomo said. “They will provide inpatient and outpatient care and support families who have a loved one that cannot return to the home and is in need of long-term residential treatment for mental health challenges.”

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.

One comment

  • Dont Say FLA

    February 29, 2024 at 7:41 am

    If we will soon have capacity, please send both Rhonda and Trump and teach them how to behave.

Comments are closed.


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