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Board of Medicine Approves $1-a-Page Copy Fee

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Barry Gutierrez/NPR

  Doctors’ offices and others can charge patients $1 a page for copies of their medical records under a rule change adopted by the Florida Board of Medicine early Friday. The increased fee applies even if the records are kept and sent electronically.

The rule previously set the maximum for patients at a lower amount for lengthy records: $1 a page for the first 25 pages, and 25 cents a page thereafter. 

The unanimous vote represents a defeat for the trial bar and patient advocacy groups, and a victory for physician groups and the industry that specializes in handling copying requests for medical practices. 

Those who supported the increase say it’s justified, in that the cap has been the same since 1988. Hospitals have been charging patients $1 a page for years, they say.

The matter has been hard-fought by lawyers who specialize in certain areas of the law, including  medical malpractice suits, auto accidents and disability applications. Hillsborough Circuit Judge William Levens ruled last year that the lower per-page fee should apply to lawyers who have signed authorizations to request records on behalf of patients.

The medical board had been scheduled to adopt the higher fee limit 14 months ago, but was stopped when their counsel said they had to do a Statement of Estimated Regulatory Costs.  This is a study of the impact of the rule change on small business to assure it would not impose a significant financial burden. If the impact were significant, the Legislature would have to ratify the rule change.

The current executive director for the medical board, André Ourso, submitted a statement saying there would be a cost to small law firms but that it is not possible to determine exactly what that might amount to.

--Special correspondent Carol Gentry is part of WUSF in Tampa. Health News Florida receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.