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House Ready To Approve Trauma Care Changes

The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The Florida House could vote as soon as Friday to approve changes to criteria for opening new trauma centers, after years of legal battling about the approval of trauma facilities.

House members Thursday discussed the bill (HB 1077), sponsored by Rep. Jay Trumbull, R-Panama City, and positioned it for a vote. Under the proposed criteria, what are known as "trauma service areas" with populations of more than 1.25 million people would be determined to have a need for a minimum of two trauma centers.

A trauma service area with a population of more than 2.5 million — currently only an area made up of Miami-Dade and Monroe counties — would be determined to have a need for a minimum of four trauma centers.

In part, the bill would help ensure that a disputed trauma center at Orange Park Medical Center in Clay County could continue operating. An administrative law judge ruled in January that current criteria only allow one trauma center in a five-county area of Northeast Florida and that the Florida Department of Health improperly allowed the Orange Park trauma facility to open.

UF Health Jacksonville hospital has long operated a trauma center in the region. "To me, this is an access issue," House Health & Human Services Chairman Travis Cummings, R-Orange Park, said Thursday on the House floor.

But the bill has drawn opposition from groups such as the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida, which represents hospitals that have long operated trauma centers. Critics contend that allowing more trauma centers would dilute quality of care.