With only one two weeks remaining before the official start of the Legislative Session, legislators and lobbyists are still scrambling to influence the key issues that will be addressed during the 60-day session.
Scope of Practice issues continue to dominate Medicine's agenda; ARNPs have filed the usual bills allowing them to prescribe controlled substances (SB 602 and HB 485); PAs have filed bills to allow their charts to be free from physician review (HB 859 and SB 1690), and the naturopaths are rumored to have secured Representative Marty Bowen as a House sponsor for their licensing bill and have made a presentation to the Senate Health Care Committee. Medicine is responding to the challenge, having filed bills requiring the disclosure of one's licensure (HB 587 and SB 416), minimum supervision requirements (HB 571 and SB 1420), and additional Board of Medicine authority to regulate supervising physicians (HB 699 and SB 1216). Of all these bills, however, only the Licensure Disclosure bill has even been on a Committee agenda prior to Session.
The House is poised to consider the elimination of joint and several liability (HB 145) during its first week of Session, although the Senate companion bill (SB 2006) has yet to even receive its committee references. Meanwhile, Medicine's Expert Witness Certification Bill is still awaiting formal filing in both the House and Senate.
We continue to oppose attempts by Senator Jones and Representative Farkas to require commercial insurance for physicians, as such a requirement would be devastating to those for whom professional liability insurance simply is too expensive or not available. Fortunately, both bills received numerous references, and we have received encouraging feedback from legislators indicating a likelihood that the bills will be defeated.
In Washington, the President has signed the 2006 Budget Bill which rescinds the 4.4% Medicare fee reduction and has no Pay for Performance provisions. 2006 will be devoted to replacing the Sustainable Growth Rate formula (which calls for a 26% fee reduction by 2012) with a more rate formula and ensuring that any Pay for Performance proposals (of which there will be many) do not add layers of cost and hassle to the physician practice.
All of these efforts would not be possible without the help of our physicians. Special thanks to resident; Regina Marranzini, M.D., ORMC, and to our key contact members; Mary T. Busowski, M.D., Winter Springs, and Michael A. Zimmer, M.D., FACP, St. Petersburg, for spending February 8th in Tallahassee to lobby on behalf of the Chapter and our patients.
Page updated: 2/20/06
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