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Hospice Care on Legislative Agenda

Terminally ill patients in the final stages of life could get easier access to medical care under legislation being pushed by a powerful committee chairman.

A bill sponsored by Sen. Aaron Bean of Jacksonville, encourages the expansion of hospice care by changing a complex licensing procedure.

Regulators call the process certificate of need, or CON. The bill essentially eases those restrictions in six counties where there is only one hospice provider.

The state’s leading industry association doesn’t have a stance yet. Paul Ledford, president of the Florida Hospice and Palliative Care Alliance, says his group likes the rules the way they are.

“The CON works and wherever there is a need, the formula shows it,” he said.

The bill would declare an automatic need for more hospice services in six counties in the state, Ledford says.

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Jim Ash is a reporter at WFSU-FM. A Miami native, he is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.