There are now only two weeks left in the 2017 Session, and lawyers and lobbyists are preparing for a frenetic stretch run. The House and Senate have significantly different budgetary priorities (e.g., the Senate wanting all state workers to receive a raise, while the House only provides raises for first responders) and significantly different approaches to health care.
For instance, the House Health Services Committee advanced HB 7011 over our strenuous objections on Wednesday. This bill would grant ARNPs independent practice, allow pharmacists to diagnose and treat influenza, and exempt out of state telehealth providers from most Florida laws. We opposed the bill on each of these points, but the bill did pass on a 10-8 vote. The bill has not yet been scheduled for a Floor vote, and we continue to press the Senate not to consider such a proposal. Special thanks go to Reps. Gayle Harrell and Thad Altman for the courage to cross party lines to vote against this bad bill.
In better news, that same committee opted NOT to hear an Optometry Scope Expansion Bill after Medicine made its forceful opposition known. This bill, which would have allowed optometrists to perform many surgeries, is not technically “dead,” but passage appears increasingly unlikely.
Board of Medicine legislation that would increase the standards for Level I procedures passed the House unanimously, but the companion is stuck in the Rules Committee. Nevertheless, we are hopeful that we can get this bill onto the Senate floor. Likewise, legislation that would enable additional funding for the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program has passed the House, while its Senate companion in already on the Senate floor.
Scores of other bills remain in play in the Session’s final weeks, so stay tuned for frequent reports over the next fourteen days.