House Votes Today on Health Bills

Apr 22, 2014

The  House is set to vote today on two significant health bills, including one that would allow physicians to supervise as many as eight physician's assistants (PAs) and another on compounded drugs.

Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee is tackling 65 bills in a day-long meeting.

Physician's Assistants -- HB 1275 would expand the number of PAs per doctor to eight, up from four. But the extra four would have to be working in the same office,  under an amendment added on Monday.

The impulse that drove the Select Committee on Health Care Work Force Innovation to co-sponsor the PA bill is the need to make more efficient use of the skills of primary-care physicians.

Compounding Pharmacies -- HB 7077 would close a loophole in state law that allows state regulation of drug-compounders inside state borders but not those out-of-state vendors who ship to customers in-state.  This bill originally was supposed to be passed in 2013, but as Health News Florida reported in June, the issue fell through the cracks during the bill-drafting stage between the House health committee staff and the Department of Health.

This bill is aimed at preventing another outbreak of disease like the multistate fungal meningitis epidemic of fall 2012. It was the result of sloppy practices at New England Compounding Center, now defunct.

The House is also scheduled to take up the issue of e-cigarettes (HB 169). It has faced opposition from health advocates, who worry that a state law will circumvent local government efforts to regulate the sale of the cigarettes to children.

Legislators in the House also will take up an insurance bill (HB 255) aimed at protecting gun owners, according to the Bradenton Herald.

The powerful Senate Appropriations Committee’s laundry list includes a number of controversial bills, including the so-called Charlotte’s Web bill (SB 1030) aimed at legalizing a non-euphoric strain of medical marijuana. On Monday, that bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The committee, chaired by Sen. Joe Negron, R-Palm Coast, will also debate:

·         The Senate version of the compounding bill (CS/SB 662): The bill aims at better defining regulations over compounding pharmacies, such as licensing fees, permits and inspections.

·         Unlicensed clinics (SB 746): Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, sponsored this bill that redefines medical clinics and issues penalties for facilities that employee physicians who have had their licenses suspended or revoked.

·         Controlled substances (SB 780): The bill adds bath salts and other hallucinogens to the list of illegal drugs.

·         Human trafficking (SB 768): Children who were victims of sexual abuse and forced to become sex workers would be provided relocation and other assistance under this bill.

·         Medicaid Managed Care: (SB 1354): This bill revises the language concerning contracts for the state’s managed care program for Medicaid recipients.