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Health-Care Regulatory Revamp On Scott’s Desk

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

Gov. Rick Scott has until March 27 to take action on a broad regulatory bill that would affect health-care providers throughout the state.

Among other things, the bill would eliminate a longstanding state HMO review panel, make changes to the state’s assisted-living facility licensure requirements and roll back licensure requirements for clinical laboratories.

Sen. Denise Grimsley, a Sebring Republican who sponsored the bill (SB 622), told The News Service of Florida that she was able to get the measure passed after the House agreed to withdraw a number of amendments. Grimsley, who is running for state agriculture commissioner this year and won’t return to the Senate, said she asked the House to not amend the bill.

If amendments had been added, the bill would have needed to go back to the Senate for more consideration. “They obliged,” Grimsley said. “After five years, it passed.”

In part, the bill would eliminate the Statewide Provider and Subscriber Assistance Panel, which was created more than 30 years ago to review complaints against HMOs on a host of issues ranging from enrollment and disenrollment procedures to quality-of-care concerns. The agency recommended eliminating the panel because many health plans choose to participate in a managed-care external review program available under the federal Affordable Care Act.

The bill also would change the state’s assisted-living facilities laws to tighten up a licensure exemption for any person who houses or cares for one or two people in a home. The bill makes clear that the home must be the person’s permanent residence.

The bill also would amend ALF licensure requirements to make clear that it’s a third-degree felony to rent or maintain an unlicensed ALF. The bill also would amend current law spelling out ALF residents’ “rights” to make clear they have the right to assistance with obtaining access to adequate and appropriate health care, including management of medications, assistance in making health-care appointments and help with transportation to appointments.

Clinical laboratories would no longer be licensed by the state under the bill. Instead, the state would rely on the federal government to continue to license the facilities. The bill was formally sent Monday to Scott, who can sign, veto or let the measure become law without his signature.