Health battles loom in House

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A legislative “train” of three health care-related issues could face intense debate in the House on Thursday as lawmakers consider an across-the-board bill (HB 7113) allowing three disputed trauma centers to continue operating, expand powers of nurse practitioners and establish a framework for the use of telemedicine.

In anticipation of the floor debate, 14 amendments have been filed as of Wednesday night; the most controversial being one filed by Rep. John Tobia, which removes the part of the bill allowing nurse practitioners to care for patients without physician supervision.

The opportunity to provide treatment independently of doctors addresses a longtime issue for nurse practitioners and several House leaders, who see the bill as a way to help expand access to primary care, supported the bill.

Physician groups have actively opposed the idea, including the influential Florida Medical Association. At the same time, Rep. Eddy Gonzalez filed an amendment to eliminate the part of the bill permitting appointed members of the Public Health Trust of Miami-Dade County, which administers Jackson Memorial Hospital, to execute labor contracts without prior approval from the Miami-Dade County Commission. That section of the bill had strong opposition from Miami-Dade County.