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Senators Seek To Boost 'Medical Tourism'

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Florida Senate
The Florida Channel
Health Policy Chairman Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach.

A Senate panel Tuesday approved a bill aimed at boosting "medical tourism,'' which could attract out-of-state residents to seek care from Florida hospitals and other health providers.

The measure (SB 178), sponsored by Health Policy Chairman Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, would direct Enterprise Florida to market the state as a "destination" for health services. That would include developing a marketing plan to promote services and expertise of Florida providers.

Bean, whose committee unanimously approved the bill, said medical tourism can be a "great economic engine."

The committee, however, eliminated from the bill an unrelated proposal designed to clear the way for what are known as "direct primary care" agreements between doctors and patients. Such agreements involve patients paying monthly fees to doctors for routine care, effectively cutting out insurers.

House leaders have included direct primary care in a series of issues they say could help improve access to health care and lower costs.

Bean expressed support for the direct primary-care issue Tuesday but said it would have to be addressed separately from medical tourism.

"That's for another meeting,'' he said.