Especially in the House of Representatives, Scope of Practice Expansion and Telemedicine are two of the key issues of the 2019 Legislative Session, and both were placed in the limelight before a packed Health Quality Committee Room this past week.
Committee members heard presentations on both issues, with Telemedicine taking the lead. While panel members touted the virtues of telemedicine, we continued to lobby that physicians have the final say as to whether telemedicine is appropriate and that out-of-state physicians be held accountable to both the Board of Medicine and Florida courts. While the final bill has yet to be introduced, legislators in both chambers (and on both sides of the aisle) appear to support our position.
APRN Independent Practice was a more contentious issue, as proponents argued that independence would allow APRNs to treat more patients, while opponents such as us argued that independent practice would not increase the number of APRNs but would remove the physician from the health care team. While no vote was taken, Re. Cary Pigman, M.D. filed an APRN Independent Practice Bill (HB 821) almost immediately, which we will have to fight throughput the Session.
In the Senate, we have been working behind the scenes on SB 732, which, as written, would require any office that performed invasive procedures of any type to be registered and inspected. We are, however, working in good faith with the sponsor, Anitere Flores, to amend the bill to allow regulation of Level II and III offices and owners, as well as physicians. It is hoped that this approach will help curb many of the abuses cited in a recent USA Today article without disrupting currently effective regulations.
Finally, we are lobbying both chambers to enact legislation that would prohibit redundant Step Therapy, as requiring patients who have tried and failed with lesser treatments should not be required to repeat those failed therapies if they change health plans. As you can see, it will be a hectic Session, but we are currently well positioned to protect our doctors and patients, and we look forward to a successful sixty days.