Week Two Legislative Report
January 21, 2016
The second week of the 2016 Legislative Session maintained the frenetic pace of the first, as both the House and Senate continued to move forward several pieces of significant health care legislation.
On Tuesday the House and Insurance and Banking Committee refused to yield to strong Medicine opposition to HB 221, which would prohibit balance billing by non-contracted providers in the emergency room. While we agreed with the stated goal of preventing the emergency room patient from being “price gouged,” we continue to insist that the physicians be fairly compensated for their services. Reports are that the House leadership understands the flaws in the current bill and will be offering an amendment next week.
The controversy in the House was immediately followed by the Senate Health Policy Committee voting to strip SB 212 of the controversial Recovery Care Center language, leaving a bill that would still allow Florida ASCs to keep patients after midnight. It should be noted that the House Health and Human Services Committee today voted to keep the RCC language in its bill (HB 85), making this an issue that likely will not be resolved until late in the Session.
In other news, Medicine scored a major victory when the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee voted in favor of SB 1084, the Right Medicine, Right Time Act. Also moving were compromise bills that would allow ARNPs and Physician Assistants to prescribe controlled substances in certain circumstances, while not granting such providers independent practice.