Week 8 Legislative Update: Florida House Passes Health Care Reform Laws
By Rep. Steve Crisafulli // March 7, 2016
House Passes Bills to Protect Religious Liberty
With just one week left in the 2016 Legislative Session, the House continued working diligently over the past few days to pass legislation and produce a balanced budget.
When it comes to health care, the House supports increasing access and quality of care by pursuing solutions aimed at reducing costs and eliminating government barriers to new, more efficient ways to care for people. On the floor this week, we passed several bills to further these goals.
House Bill 37, relating to direct primary care, cuts costs by eliminating the administrative hassles of the third-party payer system and restores the patient-physician relationship. The use of direct primary care in combination with catastrophic care plans and health savings accounts makes insurance portable, flexible, and personal.
House Bill 85 eliminates unnecessary regulations on ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs). ASCs that can keep a patient for 24 hours and recovery care centers that can keep a patient up to 72 hours provide lower cost care settings for patients. This will help reduce health care costs by increasing patient choice and market competition.
House Bill 423 expands the scope of practice for advanced registered nurse practitioners and physician assistants to give patients greater access to care. This will help reduce health care costs by increasing competition and flexibility.
House Bill 1175 increases transparency in our health care system. The bill requires the Agency for Health Care Administration to contract with a vendor to provide an online, searchable tool. This will allow consumers to access information on more than 70 health care service bundles and other specific conditions which will assist them in making health care decisions for themselves and their families.
Clear, factual information about the cost and quality of health care is essential for consumers to select value-driven health care options, and for consumers and providers to be involved in and accountable for decisions about health care.
House Bill 7087 authorizes Florida licensed health care professionals to use telehealth to deliver health care services within their respective scopes of practice. The bill also authorizes out-of-state health care professionals to use telehealth to deliver health care services to Florida patients if they register with the Department of Health. The bill clarifies that a patient may receive, and the treating health care practitioner may provide, services using telehealth from any location. This will allow Floridians who live in rural areas or cannot leave their residence due to medical or transportation challenges, to be treated in their homes, or could reduce the frequency of their travel to a doctor’s office.
House Bill 1061 enacts the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) and authorizes Florida to enter into the revised 2015 compact with all other jurisdictions that have legally joined. The NLC grants a multistate license to nurses based on licensure in their state of primary residency.
This multistate license allows them to practice nursing in other compact member states without having to obtain additional licenses. If Florida adopts the revised NLC, nurses will avoid the costly fees, cumbersome application processes, and employment delays associated with holding multiple state licenses. Participation in the NLC will also ease the significant nursing workforce shortage, which is greater in Florida due to our aging population and seasonal tourism needs, making our state better able to compete with other states for nurses.
House Bill 307 removes the barrier between dying people and well-regulated physician ordered medical cannabis.
The bill allows the five approved dispensing organizations to cultivate, process, transport, and dispense medical cannabis in addition to low-THC cannabis under the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014. To receive medical cannabis, a patient must have an irreversible, progressive, terminal illness and two physicians must certify that death will result within one year if the diagnosis progresses.
These reforms prioritize patient choice, competition, and flexibility to rein in costs and expand access to quality health care for Florida’s hard working families. I believe by passing these important bills, we are using free market solutions to improve health care for our citizens.
Legacy Florida Bill to Help Restore Everglades Advances
This week, the House passed HB 989 to create the Legacy Florida initiative, which establishes a dedicated funding source for Everglades restoration. Should this legislation become law, it is expected that approximately $200 million will be directed to restoration efforts annually. I believe this is an important bill that will help us protect the health and beauty of the River of Grass, which is one of the most critical resources we have here in Florida.
House Passes Bills to Protect Life and Religious Liberty
On Thursday, the House passed HB 1411. The bill sets new requirements for the inspection of abortion clinics by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and requires abortion referral or counseling agencies to register with AHCA. The bill also requires all physicians who perform abortions in a clinic prior to the third trimester to have admitting privileges with a hospital within a reasonable proximity of the clinic unless the clinic has a written transfer agreement with a hospital within a reasonable proximity to the clinic, which includes the transfer of the patient’s medical records held by both the clinic and the treating physician.
The bill also bans state and local government funding for entities that perform elective abortions and prohibits anyone from advertising, selling, purchasing, donating, and transferring fetal remains obtained through an abortion. In my opinion, this good bill protects the health of women, ensures tax dollars are not spent on abortions, and continues our commitment to making Florida a state where all life is protected.
The House also passed what I believe is an important piece of legislation aimed at protecting religious freedom. HB 43 protects churches, clergy, and religious organizations from being required to participate in a marriage ceremony that violates their sincerely held religious beliefs. This bill simply codifies an existing right guaranteed by the United States Constitution, the Florida Constitution, and the Florida Religious Freedom Restoration Act (FRFRA) – the right to be free from the government compelling citizens to engage in conduct their religion forbids.
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