On Friday April 30th the Legislature adjourned session at 2:40 pm ending one of the strangest sessions ever as it was almost entirely virtual. The Legislature passed a record $101.5 billion budget and $44.5 billion went to health care spending. $1.86 billion of the health care funding came from federal coronavirus relief money.
A total of 3,140 Bills and proposed Committee Bills were filed and 275 Bills passed both chambers. The Governor has final say on what becomes law. The Covid Liability Bill which provides protection for health care providers passed earlier in session and was signed into law.
The Physician Assistants Bill passed and it changed the ratio of PA’s that can be supervised from 1-4 to 1-10. The Nurse Scope Expansion Bill that would have allowed nurses to practice independently did not get a hearing in either house. The Optometry Bill did not pass, which would have allowed optometrists to perform surgery. The Department of Health Bill Package passed and contains language that allows for telehealth to be used to prescribe controlled substances. The PIP Reform Bill passed changing Florida from a no-fault state to an at-fault state and contains $5,000 for med pay opt out. It is not an ideal bill and there is a lot of concern it will raise rates. It will be interesting to see if this bill survives the veto pen. The Pelvic Exam Clean-Up Bill passed and addressed a majority of the issues last year’s bill had unintentionally caused. In the Emergency Services Bill that passed the state is to stockpile PPE and distribute to physicians and health care workers in the event of an emergency.
The campaign phone calls have already begun. It is a reapportionment year; so, that means everyone runs in a new or modified district. Session starts in January next year which means that it will be a very busy summer.
Ironically, the leaders of the Senate and House have just announced the Capitol will be fully open for the upcoming Special Session set for May 17th on gaming.
Here is hoping the new variants don’t wreak havoc in Florida as virtual session makes the process more of a challenge.
Thanks to all for their help and support.