The legislative committee process is underway. On Wednesday, October 16th, the House Health Market Reform Committee, Chaired by Rep “Dr.” Pigman ( ER doc), took up the issue of balanced billing that by way of his introduction is a “legacy” issue that was addressed in 2016 through HB 221 and passed. Due to term limits, he felt the need to educate the committee as he feels it will be an issue they will need to address in the future. Chairman Pigman is termed out after this session. Chair Pigman is also the one who traditionally pushes the scope expansion issues that would allow extenders to practice beyond their training.
The Office of Insurance regulation presented and stated that since the bill passed they have not had any consumer complaints about balanced billing except as it relates to air ambulances which falls under federal jurisdiction. No one is certain what Chair Pigman intends to do regarding balanced billing. Representative Mike Grant and Representative Heather Fitzenhagen both asked excellent questions relating to not wanting to be the ones setting prices and noting that specialty physicians that are the best at, knee surgery, perhaps are hard to see and more expensive because they are so good at what they do. To date, this committee has not met during its last two blocks of times of meeting availability.
The physician extender issue is starting to coalesce with the Chair of the Florida Association of Nurse Practitioners stating after the state medical advisory committee at AHCA that due to Hurricane Michael the panhandle has lost specialty doctors and there is an access to care problem. He plans to pursue legislation to allow nurses to run their own health clinics without supervision of a doctor. I am certain we will see more on this from the House soon. AHCA’s response was this is where Telehealth can alleviate the problem.
There are two weeks of committee meetings in November and to date the leadership agendas have not been revealed. Session starts in January. The physician extender issue is anticipated but no language has been released to date.
Campaign season is underway and now is a great time to make friends and connect with your local leaders. Please contact me if you have any questions.
Alison Dudley, FRS Lobbyist