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Hospital Obstetrical Departments Closure Bill Heads To Full Senate

hospital workers in hospital
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A Senate committee Thursday approved a bill that would require hospitals to give advance notice to doctors before closing obstetrical departments, readying the bill to go to the full Senate.

The bill (SB 586), filed by Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, would require notice to be given at least 120 days before hospitals shut down obstetrical departments or stop providing obstetrical services.

Supporters of the bill have argued, at least in part, that closures can affect services provided to pregnant women who are close to giving birth. As an example, a Senate staff analysis pointed to an announcement in June 2007 by Bartow Regional Medical Center that it would close its obstetrical department at the end of July 2007.

Lawmakers have proposed similar notice bills in the past, but the measures have not become law.

Stargel's bill, which is backed by the Florida Medical Association, was unanimously approved Thursday by the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee.

The House version (HB 471) has been approved by a subcommittee and is pending in the House Health & Human Services Committee.