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House Sends 'Train' to Senate

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.

The Florida House passed a huge bill full of controversial health issues on Friday shortly after lunch, sending it on to a Senate that may not be friendly.

The "train" -- legislative jargon for a bill that carries many unconnected issues -- was a signal defeat for the Florida Medical Association, which had opposed two of the biggest issues. HB 7113 would give nurse practitioners the right to practice independently and would allow telemedicine consults with doctors in other states who don't hold Florida licenses. 

The vote was 74-42.

Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, said the bill also is a win for rural residents who now have limited access to primary care. Advanced practice nurses will mean residents won't have to travel far or wait to see a qualified health care provider.

“We want to make sure we are recognizing for all of our Floridians, both our residents and our visitors that this is a place where, if they need care, they can get to it, whether it’s at a trauma center or it’s primary care., this is a way to provide access to our citizens in a way that works for everybody,” he said. said

However, Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa, criticized increasing nurse practitioner authority, especially the ability to prescribe controlled substances. She said it will “create a new wave of pill mills” in Florida, a state once notorious for prescription drug abuse.

“Access to care and quality of care are not the same thing,” she said. “And I don’t think they can be substituted one for the other.”

Other issues that rode to victory with the bill would benefit certain chain pharmacies and hospital corporations.

The number of technicians that an individual pharmacist can supervise would double from three to six in most cases, and would be unlimited in a large centralized pharmacy setting.

The bill would allow HCA hospitals in three counties -- Manatee, Pasco and Marion -- to keep the trauma centers they built, even though a judge said the state erred in granting permission for them. Under the bill, a moratorium on trauma centers would be imposed for a year while a study is being performed to see how many trauma centers the state needs.

Also, Miami-Dade Public Health Trust would have the right to handle its own labor negotiations without having to get permission from the county commission.

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.