Sunshine State Health Care Regulation Debate Rekindled


Florida lawmakers could be rekindling the debate about easing healthcare industry regulations in the state. Two weeks ago, a House panel began reconsidering the “certificate of need” program – a regulatory process that requires certain health care providers to obtain state approval before offering certain new or expanded services such as skilled nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities for the developmentally disabled, new hospitals and certain hospital services. Bills concentrating on the regulation of ambulatory surgical centers and clearing the way for direct primary care agreements between doctors and patients were also filed in the House and Senate.

It is worth noting that these issues are not new: In recent years House leaders have repeatedly pursued to reduce ‘certificate of need’ laws and implement other regulatory changes. The House and Senate are having a difficult time agreeing on these issues as lobbyists push them in different directions regarding competing parts of the healthcare industry.

Many House leaders have supported eliminating the ‘certificate of need’ process for hospitals, debating that a free market approach would improve access to care. Those who disagree with eliminating the certificate of need process, on the other hand, have argued that such an act would lead to hospitals being built in affluent areas to support insured patients, while established public and community hospitals would be left to treat low-income and uninsured patients.

This debate concerning revamping healthcare regulations in Florida comes amidst broader questions from a national perspective about changes in the industry as a whole. Many of these questions revolve around the push from Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress to drop the Affordable Care Act, which would affect providers, patients and insurers.

Along with the ‘certificate of need issue’, lawmakers will also likely revisit proposals concerning ambulatory surgical centers and ‘recovery care’ centers. Currently overnight stays at ambulatory surgical centers are prohibited but two bills filed (HB 145 and SB 222) call for allowing the operation of recovery care centers, a new entity where patients could stay 72 hours after surgery.

Legislature could also take another look at proposals that would accept “direct primary care” agreements between doctors and patients. Direct primary care agreements typically involve monthly payments that patients or their employers make to a health provider. These payments cover the routine primary care services for a patient and cut out the role of the insurer. HB 161 and SB 240, which were both filed, would make it clear that direct primary care agreements are not considered insurance and are not governed by Florida insurance laws.

Here at PNS, we are keeping a pulse on these state legislations and the potential affects they could have on you. Thank you for tuning in this week!

by Carolina Diaz on January 26, 2017

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