Aaron Bean’s back, and so is telemedicine and Charlotte’s Web

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State Sen. Aaron Bean is returning as the point man on substantive health-care policy in the Senate.

He told SaintPetersBlog on Thursday that he’s ready to “get back in the ring” when it comes to balancing technology and health care and that he’s also willing to expand Charlotte’s Web to include other diseases.

“Telemedicine is still No. 1 with me,” Bean, chairman of the Senate Health Policy Committee, said when asked about his priorities for the coming year. After the disparate debate on the issue in the 2014 session, with organized medicine wanting to take steps to regulate it and the insurance industry on the other side of the issue moving to broaden the use, Bean said, the Legislature should better understand the issue.

“It’s baked in the oven.”

Florida Medical Association President Tim Stapleton said the issue continues to top the FMA’s agenda. The Board of Medicine updated its telemedicine rules this year. The rules ban doctors from prescribing controlled substances through telemedicine though there is an exemption that allows doctors to order controlled substances for patients in hospitals. Telemedicine is defined as medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communication but does not include text messages or mail or facsimile.

Bean said Charlotte’s Web is an issue that needs to be re-examined, given the rule challenge to the regulations issued by the Florida Department of Health. He also said he was willing to examine whether there was “a way to expand (the law) to bring hope to those who need it.”

Rounding out a trio of priorities Bean talked about was better leveraging revenue from tourists who visit Florida from other states as well as countries because of  its health-care facilities.  Florida TaxWatch issued recommendations and the issue is a priority for Visit Florida and Bean has already  filed SB 86.

Bean said he exchanged text messages with his counterpart, state Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, after Senate President Andy Gardiner made the committee announcements December 3. Bean said he plans on having lunch with  his House counterpart the first week in January when they are in Tallahassee for interim committee meetings. “We’ll have a sitdown and go through how we can be of assistance to each other,” Bean said. “I’m going to buy him a sandwich, or a piece of fish.”