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State Might Pay Employees to Shop

A bill that would create a pilot program for state employees to find the least-expensive doctors and hospitals when they need certain elective medical procedures was approved by the House Health and Human Services Committee on Thursday, the Florida Current reports.

The “Price Transparency Project” is modeled after a California program that reportedly saved the state money by allowing employees to shop around.  They were given a benchmark price, and if they could meet it or beat it, they shared in the savings, said bill sponsor Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford.

The bill would also change the current pricing structure for HMO and PPO plans.  State employees now pay the same amount for each, but it is customary for PPOs -- which provide greater choice of providers -- to cost more. 

Brodeur said he lacked specifics; Rep. Mia Jones, D-Jacksonville, said she was voting no until she sees the numbers.

Other legislative highlights:

  • Two bills involving guns passed in the House, despite opposition from Democrats: the “warning-shot” bill and a measure that softens the zero-tolerance discipline policies in schools when children are caught playing with pretend weapons. That measure, dubbed the “Pop-Tart” bill, explicitly allows children to use toaster pastries as pretend guns, the Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureaureports.
  • The House Appropriations Committee has approved $1 million for research on Charlotte’s Web, a condensed strain of marijuana that has been used to treat epilepsy in children, the Associated Pressreports.
  • Identical measures in the House and Senate would require Pharmacy Benefit Managers to notify  pharmacies seven days before they do an audit, the Florida Current reports. Lawmakers say the measures would protect small pharmacies from surprise audits by the PBMs, which oversee payment of prescription claims.
  • The Senate Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation approved a comprehensive springs bill after months of revisions and persistent questions of funding, the Florida Current reports. 
Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.