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Florida Chapter Legislation Report 2006
Christopher L. Nuland
Chapter General Counsel
January 19, 2006

With committee meetings already underway and bills being heard, the 2006 Legislative Season is already in full swing. As always, a multitude of bills would greatly impact the ACP's members, and the Chapter already has been in contact with key leaders in an effort to promote the interests of our members and the patients they serve.

Unfortunately, many of the bills would adversely affect the practice of medicine. For instance, Representative Farkas and Senator Jones once again have filed bills (HB 565 and SB 272) that would eliminate the ability of physicians to self-insure. With premiums continuing to soar, this bill would force many physicians to retire or relocate, and we once again will vigorously oppose this legislation.

Scope of Practice will remain a hot topic in 2006. Already ARNP Prescribing bills have been filed in the House (HB 485) and Senate (SB 602), and a Naturopathic Licensing Bill still is expected. Extenders, however, will have to contend with a slew of bills requiring them to notify patients of their actual licensing (SB 416 and HB 587), authorizing the Board of Medicine to regulate the supervision of extenders (HB 699 and SB 1216), and bills actually requiring some measure of direct supervision (SB 1420).

And bills promoting patient health have been filed, with the Chapter already testifying on their behalf, such as Representative Gayle Harrell's HB 371, which would allow unused cancer drugs to be redistributed to low-income patients.

On the tort front, the FMA has proposed legislation that would allow the Florida Board of Medicine some degree of regulatory authority over out of state expert witnesses. While still in draft format press time, this legislation would require out of state experts to obtain a certificate from the Board, which could be revoked if the expert's testimony was to be found contrary to the actual standard of care. We will support this legislation when it is filed.

As important as the Tallahassee legislative season is, recent events have shown that the Chapter and its physicians also must be active in Washington. If current federal law is not amended, physicians face a 26% cut in Medicare fees by 2012 and a resulting similar cut in managed care fees that are based on the Medicare fee schedule. Fortunately, certain Floridian members of Congress such as Clay Shaw and Allen Boyd have been fighting to repeal the fatally flawed Sustainable Growth Rate formula, but the urgency of their mission has increased dramatically. We must continue to work diligently on this issue to ensure a fair and sustainable funding formula.

The past few years have proven that even a relatively small association such as ours may be influential if its members are committed to affecting public policy. Special thanks to Dr. Tony Ortiz and Dr. Mario Pulido from UF Shands Jacksonville for demonstrating their commitment by spending January 11th, visiting legislators with the ACP staff in Tallahassee.

Supporting good legislation (and the statesmen who propose it) and opposing bad proposals (and the politicians that propose them) are now as important to your practice as your stethoscope. Keep up the good work, and I look forward to working with you in 2006 to achieve great things.

Page updated: 1/20/06