Senator Aims to Cap Trauma Fees

Mar 25, 2014

Sen. Denise Grimsley wants to cap the so-called trauma-access fee that some trauma centers are adding to the regular charges for unsuspecting patients, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Sen. Denise Grimsley
Credit Florida Senate

If adopted, her $15,000 cap would force several for-profit trauma centers in the state to roll back their access fees. Most of those affected would be HCA hospitals; in a recent investigation the Tampa Bay Times reported the HCA centers' access fees averaged $28,000.

She wants to add the amendment to her own bill, SB 1276, which sets new rules for the state's trauma system; its most controversial section would allow three HCA trauma centers that are at the center of a bitter legal fight to remain open.

Rep. Jason Brodeur's companion bill, HB 7113, passed in the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee Monday, the News Service of Florida reports. 

The facilities are in Pasco, Marion and Manatee Counties. 

Supporters of more-established trauma centers, including Tampa General Hospital, St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville and UF Health Jacksonville, argue that too many trauma centers affects the quality and cost of care.

The HCA matter will be one of several controversial issues scheduled for Tuesday's Senate Health Policy committee, which starts at 2 p.m. (see meeting packet). Other issues include expanding authority for nurse practitioners to include prescribing controlled drugs -- but not, as the House bill includes -- independent practice.

Another touchy bill is SB 282, which would extend eligibility for Florida Kidcare to children who are legal residents of the U.S. but whose parents are not (usually because the children were born here). The cost is estimated at $27.6 million.