Legislative Update: 2019 Florida Legislative Session Has Ended

By Amy J. Young, FSP Legislative Consultant

The 2019 Florida legislative session officially concluded on Saturday, May 4th, a day later than originally scheduled due to delayed budget negotiations. The FSP had a great deal of issues we were working on, but altogether we came out unscathed this Session.

MEDICARE RATE FOR REIMBURSEMENT – Failed

We also fought the good (and SUCCESSFUL) fight all Session against legislation filed which would have capped pathology reimbursement at 200% of the Medicare rate. The FSP Executive Committee was alerted to this legislation, HB 1317 and SB 1790, the day it was filed and your FSP President, Dr. Morton Levitt, Immediate Past President, Dr. Antonio Martinez and FSP Legislative Chair, Dr. Brett Cantrell, along with all of your FSP Officers immediately jumped in to assist with efforts to kill this legislation. More specifically the language proposed in the bills was as follows:

4. For inpatient services other than emergency services and care, 200 percent of Medicare Part A prospective payment applicable to the specified license facility providing the inpatient services

5. For outpatient services other than emergency services and care, percent of the Medicare Part A Ambulatory Payment Classification applicable to the specified licensed facility providing the outpatient services.

I would also like to give special thanks to David Smith with MedReceivables, who assisted me with alternative language in case this legislation moved any further through the process. The bills ultimately died.

TELEHEALTH – Passed

Telehealth was a big priority for the Speaker of the House and we were very engaged on this issue with FMA and other specialties. Although our ultimate goal was to make certain all telehealth providers were licensed Florida physicians, the bill that passed in the final week of session did allow for out of State health care providers to practice telehealth under certain circumstances outlined below. The legislation defines telehealth as the use of synchronous or asynchronous telecommunications technology by a telehealth provider to provide health care services. It does not include audio-only telephone calls, e-mail messages, or facsimile transmission.

Out-of-state telehealth providers must register biennially with DOH or the applicable board to provide telehealth services, within the relevant scope of practice established by Florida law and rule, to patients in this state. Furthermore, to register or renew registration as an out-of-state telehealth provider, the health care professional must:

  • Hold an active unencumbered license, consistent with the definition of “telehealth provider” listed above, in a U.S. state or jurisdiction and against whom no disciplinary action has been taken during the five years before submission of the application;
  • Never have had a license revoked in any U.S. state or jurisdiction;
  • Designate a registered agent in this state for the service of process; and
  • Prominently display a link to the DOH website which provides public information on registered telehealth providers.

The bill prohibits an out-of-state telehealth provider from opening an office in Florida and from providing in-person health care services to patients located in Florida.  

Furthermore, the bill included a requirement that such physicians remain accountable to both the Florida courts and Board of Medicine and to maintain the in-person standard of care placed on Florida licensees. 

HOSPITAL CON DEREGULATION – Passed

After twenty years of speculation and legislative attempts, the Certificate of Need repeal for hospitals was finally passed by the Legislature. Adamantly opposed by the hospitals, the legislation (HB 21) would eliminate the CON requirement for new general hospitals and “tertiary services” on July 1 of this year.  It would also repeal a CON requirement in 2021 for specialty hospitals, such as children’s hospitals.

As you recall, the earlier version of the bill would have eliminated CON but would have required new hospitals being built to meet minimum bed requirements, have emergency rooms, serve Medicare and Medicaid patients and provide certain levels of charity care. Those provisions were struck from the bill and the latest amendment would not allow new orthopedic hospitals, oncology hospitals or cardiac hospitals to be built, which are currently banned in Florida.

 

Publication Date: 
Tuesday, May 7, 2019 - 8:00am