Compromise emerges on docs vs. pharmacists

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The House Health & Human Services Committee on Tuesday approved a compromise bill that would expand the power of pharmacists to give vaccinations, reports the News Service of Florida. Doctors and pharmacists have long clashed about the issue. But the committee voted 16-1 to approve a revised bill (HB 509) that emerged after negotiations between doctor and pharmacy groups. The bill would allow pharmacists to administer pneumonia vaccines, similar to their current authority to give flu shots. It also would allow pharmacists to give vaccinations for shingles, though those shots would require prescriptions from physicians. The revised bill also calls for pharmacists to complete vaccination-related continuing education courses that likely would be administered by the Florida Medical Association. Sponsor Ana Rivas Logan, R-Miami, said the bill would make it more convenient for people to receive vaccinations. “This is about health care, and this is about access,” she told the committee. But Rep. Ronald “Doc” Renuart, a Ponte Vedra Beach Republican who was the only dissenting vote, raised concerns about issues such as pharmacists being able to give shots to children. “This is a slippery slope toward children even bypassing their wellness visits (to doctors’ offices),” said Renuart, an osteopathic physician. Sally West, a lobbyist for the Florida Retail Federation, which represents pharmacies, said the revised bill resulted from “many long hours” of groups trying to reach a compromise. She said she also expects the proposal to go before a Senate committee this week.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.