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Board of Medicine Refuses To Waive Doctor License Fees

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.

Worried that the proposal would deplete their operating budget, members of the Florida Board of Medicine on Friday overwhelmingly shot down a request for the state to waive physician licensure renewal fees for two years.

Waiving the renewal fees would reduce revenues by $33.8 million over two years and by $16 million this year, according to a Board of Medicine analysis.

The Florida Medical Association requested the waiver, but the board rejected it, with only two board members - Fort Lauderdale physician Kevin Cairns and consumer member Nicholas W. Romanello - dissenting.

Andre Perez, another  consumer representative on the board, initially suggested that the board delay a vote until after the end of the year to get a better understanding of the state’s financial picture amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This (the proposed waiver)  is a pretty harsh cut for our budget,” he said. “You have to understand, it’s not just board preparation and hotel rooms and so forth. These are our actual salaries for our staff. And in my opinion - and I think a lot of board members would agree - we are running a very thin staff.”

Physicians pay $389 every other year to renew their licenses. The fees are collected by the state and used to cover expenses for the Board of Medicine to regulate physicians.

Florida Medical Association assistant general counsel  Mary Thomas said physicians would be disappointed with the decision. But Board of Medicine Chairman Zachariah Zachariah asked Thomas whether the physician association reduced its membership fees to help financially struggling doctors.

“Our membership fees have stayed steady,” Thomas acknowledged, quickly adding that membership in the FMA is voluntary.

But Zachariah, a Fort Lauderdale physician, cut her off before she could offer any additional comments, noting, “Here is  the FMA  coming to say reduce the fees, but they are not willing to reduce the fees to the membership. That’s all I have to say."