House prepares to deliberate its healthcare ‘cost containment’ bills next week

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

While the Senate pushed increasing access to health care for the uninsured during the 2015 legislative session, the Florida House steadfastly refused to discuss it, saying the underlying problems in the healthcare system and Florida’s high uninsured population were due to the steep costs of health care.

After debating the Senate FHIX proposal for 2.5 hours on Thursday, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli said his chamber was prepared to take up several bills next week that will lower the costs of health care.

The House Innovation Subcommittee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday between 12 and 2 p.m. and the House Health & Human Services Committee will hold a three-hour meeting the following day.

Healthcare bills that were not heard by the House during the 2015 Regular Session will be heard in the subcommittee. Bills that were heard during the 2015 session but did not pass will be heard in the full committee.

Though it’s been getting a lot of attention lately, the House did not hear a certificate of need repeal during the regular session. HB 31 A eliminates CON for hospitals, long-term-care hospitals and tertiary services; it keeps the requirements intact for nursing homes and hospice.

That means CON will be kept intact for healthcare services that are in high demand and will be eliminated in areas with less demand. According to the state Agency for Health Care Administration there were 106 applications for new nursing homes and hospices in 2014. Of those, three were withdrawn, 67 were initially denied and 33 initially approved. There was a keen interest from developers and investors because it was the first time the state allowed new nursing home facilities to be built and beds offered in more than a decade.

In contrast, the agency received 13 applications in 2014 for new hospital facilities. Of those, one was withdrawn, four were denied and eight were initially approved.

Fourteen states have no CON regulation at all, including Texas and California.

HB 31A wasfiled by House Health & Human Services Committee Chairman state Rep. Jason Brodeur.

The recovery care center bill, HB 23 A, will be taken up by the full committee. The bill allows physicians to discharge medically stable patients to recovery care centers. The centers are required to have a dietetic department at the building or under contract as well as pharmaceutical services on campus or under contract. The bill exempts recovery care centers from licensure requirements including proof of insurance, proof of financial ability to operate and certificate of need requirements.

Other bills include a scope of practice expansion that would allow advanced registered nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe medications, HB 27A, and a rewrite of the state group health insurance program, HB 21A, also have been referred to the full committee.

Crisafulli downplayed the notion that the House would develop a healthcare bill that builds off the Senate health plan and add to it a CON repeal or a scope of practice expansion.

“No, it still has its flaws,” Crisafulli said of the FHIX plan.