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Senate committee rejects bill scaling back Florida’s certificate of need program

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A Senate committee rejected a proposal Wednesday to scale back the state’s certificate of need (CON) program for licensing hospitals, hospices, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities.

LobbyTools reports that SB 1144, filed by Niceville Republican state Sen. Don Gaetz, sought to give exemptions from the CON requirement to facilities that provide “charity care in an amount equal to or greater than the applicable district average among licensed providers of similar services.”

Before new beds can be built, the licensing program must receive approval from the state Agency for Health Care Administration certifying that there’s enough demand in the area.

Gaetz’ bill is the Senate’s latest attempts to reform CON, where House Republicans are looking to eliminate the requirement for hospitals, but keep it intact for other health-care facilities.

LobbyTools notes the bill failed in the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee on a 6-2 vote.

“I’m finding it pretty frightening that most of my friends are opposing this,” Gaetz said afterward. “And the Obama administration agrees with me.”

Palm Harbor Republican State Rep. Chris Sprowls sponsored (HB 437), the House bill that would end CON at hospitals. Sprowls’ bill is ready for a floor vote, yet there is now no Senate counterpart.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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