Florida Chapter American College of Physicians Legislative Report- May 6, 2005
If a theme were to apply to health care issues in the 2005 Legislature, it would be that legislators passed what they absolutely had to pass, defeated what they absolutely had to defeat, and left a series of other issues for 2006.
During their meetings with legislators, Chapter physicians emphasized the need to narrow the scope of the adverse constitutional amendments, maintain the ability of physicians to self-insure, and to stop any expansion of the scope of practice of allied health professionals. On each of these critical issues, the Chapter and its allies within Organized Medicine were successful.
Amendment Implementation: When Amendments 7 and 8 passed on Election Day, many physicians were concerned that virtually all hospital peer review records would become public information and that three malpractice settlements would cause a physicians license to be revoked. Through the efforts of the FMA, FHA, the Chapter, and other health care advocates, what passed was legislation drastically reducing the negative impact of Amendments 7 and 8. Under the passed legislation, events occurring prior to Election Day, 2004, will not be subject to either amendment. With regard to Amendment 7, only bona fide patients may receive adverse incident reports related to their actual procedures or their own care. Moreover, "strikes" will only occur when the Board of Medicine, by clear and convincing evidence, determines that malpractice has occurred. Special thanks to all who have worked so hard on this issue, including our allies at the FMA and FHA.
Naturopathic Physicians: The Senate Health Care Committee defeated the "Naturopathic Physician" bill by a 6-4 vote on April 26, ending this issue for the Session. Under the original bill, naturopathic physicians would have been allowed to perform minor surgery and to prescribe many types of medications. Thank you to everyone who contacted members of the committee, as several members commented on the volume e-mail they had received from physicians.
Financial Responsibility: As the bills were originally filed by Representative Farkas and Senator Jones, all physicians would have been required to double the amount of coverage, and those with hospital privileges would have to be covered for at least $500,000 per incident. Moreover, physicians would have been precluded from self-insuring. After a barrage of lobbying from medicine, including a meeting between Chapter physicians and Representative Farkas, the sponsors agreed to drop the increase in PLI coverage, but the bill continued to prevent physicians from self-insuring. Although the bill did pass the House Health Regulation Committee, the Senate Health Committee spent two weeks hearing the bill, and Senator Jones voluntarily asked that the Committee drop its consideration of the issue for the session. A final week effort by Senator Jones to add additional disclosure requirements on self-insured physicians was removed by the House.
Supervision of Physician Extenders: The Senate Health Committee opted not to hear either of the proposed "supervision" bills, effectively killing the issues for this session. As a result, the Ortiz decision, which prevents the Board of Medicine from regulating or disciplining physicians for the actions of nurses who work under their direct supervision, remains unchanged. Moreover, the use of physician extenders in satellite offices remains virtually unregulated, and both of these issues will likely re-emerge next year.
ARNP Prescribing: Likewise, the ARNP Prescribing bill was not heard, effectively killing that issue for the year.
Tort Reform: Other than dealing with the constitutional amendments, the Legislature showed virtually no inclination to tackle tort reform this year, and several good proposals by freshman Rep. Paige Kreegel, M.D. and others regarding subsequent treating physicians, expert witnesses, litigation reform, and other such issues were not considered.
Managed Care: Similarly, managed care reform took a back seat this session, as revisions to the Prompt Pay law offered by Rep. Ed Homan, M.D. failed to receive a meaningful hearing during the year.
Overall, Organized Medicine and the Chapter should be proud of its accomplishments during the 2005 Legislative Session. On the issues of greatest importance to the Chapter, members contacted legislators an outstanding 18,976 times, greatly enhancing the Legislative Programs effectiveness. Special thanks go to the 22 physicians who took time out of their busy schedules to travel to Tallahassee to meet personally with legislators and their staff. Nothing influences legislators more than having a constituent physically take the time to approach the lawmaker to lobby the issues of greatest importance.
Although much work remains for next year, our success on the Amendment Implementation, Naturopathic, and PLI issues was both notable and the result of a considerable amount of work not only by the Chapter, its physicians and staff, but also those of allies such as the FMA and FHA with whom the Chapter worked closely throughout the year.
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Page updated: 05/11/05
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