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House committee tees up a telehealth prescription proposal for floor votes

laptop next to a stethoscope and patient chart
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The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The measure approved by the House Health & Human Services Committee, would allow physicians to prescribe certain drugs, including anabolic steroids and barbiturates, during telehealth consultations.

A bill that would expand doctors’ ability to prescribe certain controlled substances through telehealth is teed up for consideration by the full House, after getting a green light from a key committee Monday.

The measure (HB 17), approved unanimously by the House Health & Human Services Committee, would allow physicians to prescribe certain drugs, including anabolic steroids and barbiturates, during telehealth consultations.

Current state law prohibits doctors from prescribing any controlled substance through telehealth consultations, except for use in the treatment of patients with psychiatric disorders, inpatients at hospitals and patients in hospice care or nursing home facilities.

Rep. Tom Fabricio, a Miramar Republican who sponsored the bill, told the House panel that the coronavirus pandemic has underscored “how well telehealth works” in medicine.

“It saves time for both patients and physicians. It increases the likelihood of patients keeping their appointments and maintaining their medication regimens,” Fabricio said Monday.

Under federal law, doctors would be required to have at least one in-person meeting with a patient before writing a prescription for certain controlled substances.

Kamal Shair, a doctor who practices internal medicine at the Mayo Clinic, told the House panel that he used telemedicine to prescribe an anti-seizure medication for a patient who requires a wheelchair and lives hours away from the hospital.

“Allowing physicians like myself to be able to prescribe these medications via telemedicine would help ease the accessibility of these life-saving medications for patients,” Shair said.

A similar Senate bill (SB 312) has breezed through three committee hearings and also is ready for consideration by the full chamber.