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New health option? Bill allows employers to enter direct primary care contracts

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Employers can sign prepaid contracts with primary care providers on behalf of their employees and it not be considered an insurance policy under an amended bill approved by a House subcommittee on Wednesday.

The bill, HB 7047, was amended, with little to no debate and advanced by the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee by a unanimous vote. It is being championed by the National Federation of Independent Business Florida as an alternative to Medicaid expansion. It also has the support of House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, who told Florida Politics before the start of the 2015 session that he supported the direct primary care concept.

Initially, the bill would have amended state insurance code to make clear that the direct primary care contracts entered are not insurance products. The initial bill allowed the contracts to be entered into by individuals as well as their legal guardians. The amendment tagged onto the bill in the Insurance and Banking Subcommittee added “employers” to the list of people who are allowed to enter the prepaid contracts with primary care physicians.

In doing so Florida is taking a different route than many of the other states that have direct primary care laws on the books. Michigan, Louisiana, Utah, and Oregon make clear that contracts can only be signed by individuals or their legal representatives. West Virginia passed a pilot program that would allow employers to participate if they previously offered no insurance.

NFIB Florida Executive Director Bill Herrle said the idea of direct primary care contracts could be the “next Uber of health care.”  Herrle said his association was not behind the amendment and that he thought employers could sign the contracts all along.

There is no counterpart to HB 7047 yet but Herrle maintained that there were several vehicles in the Senate that the language of HB 7047 could be tagged onto.

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