A number of health care issues — operation of trauma centers, telemedicine and expanding powers of nurse practitioners — could be bundled under a single bill up for House committee discussion today. The bill is so massive and so unwieldy, it is being to referred to affectionately as the Sharknado of health care legislation.
Originally, the bill (HB 7113) focused solely on the continued operation of trauma centers at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Pasco County, Blake Medical Center in Manatee County, and Marion County’s Ocala Regional Medical Center.
An amended version facing the House Health & Human Services Committee added other controversial issues. One section of the bill would allow nurse practitioners to provide various types of care, including primary care, prescribing controlled substances, admitting and discharging patients from hospitals, all without physician supervision.
Nurse practitioners have lobbied the Legislature for years to get the ability to provide services without the supervision of doctors, despite opposition by physicians’ groups.
However, the bill stops at extending additional responsibilities to nurse anesthetists, who also have sought independence from anesthesiologists.
Another House bill, filed in February, would give additional powers exclusively to nurse anesthetists.
In addition, the revised HB 7113 would provide a legal framework to promote the use of telemedicine, which allow physicians to use the Internet and telecommunications technology for remote treatment of patients.
The Health & Human Services Committee plans to address the bill during a meeting today followed later in the day with a trauma center bill (SB 1276) in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee. That bill focuses on safeguarding the operation of the trauma centers at hospitals in Manatee, Pasco and Marion Counties.
Hospitals with existing trauma centers have challenged the approval by the state Department of Health, in an attempt to shut down the facilities.