Legislative Report
Week 1
March 5, 2021

Paul D. Seltzer, DO, Legislative Chair
Stephen R. Winn, ED
Michelle W. Larson, Assoc. ED
Jason D. Winn, Esq.

On Tuesday, March 2, the Florida Legislature officially opened the 2021 Legislative Session.  In keeping with Florida’s tradition, Governor DeSantis marked the occasion by delivering his State of the State Address.  While focusing on the current state of affairs with regard to the pandemic, Governor DeSantis cordially thanked health care providers for their commitment to serving those afflicted with COVID-19.
"We thank the health care professionals throughout Florida who cared for those who became ill due to COVID. This includes frontline doctors and nurses, who provided top-notch care to hospitalized patients, as well as staff at long-term care facilities who worked tirelessly to protect our most vulnerable seniors."  

"Their efforts helped to save thousands of lives and are a major reason why Florida, with perhaps the most vulnerable population to COVID, has per capita COVID mortality that is below the national average."
According to the Governor, Florida’s pandemic public health policy, focusing on vulnerable populations such as the elderly and individuals residing in nursing homes, has saved lives.  Presently, hospitalizations for seniors declined by 80 percent and new cases among this demographic have declined by seventy-one percent.  

In response to Florida’s success regarding COVID vaccinations, the Governor issued a new executive order, expanding those eligible to be vaccinated - EXECUTIVE ORDER NUMBER 21-47.  Beginning March 3, eligible residents include:

  • Long-term care facility residents and staff;
  • Persons 65 years of age and older;
  • Health care personnel with direct patient contact;
  • K-12 school employees 50 years of age and older;
  • Sworn law enforcement officers 50 years of age and older;
  • Firefighters 50 years of age and older;
  • Individuals deemed Extremely Vulnerable to COVID-19 by a physician.

SB 74 and HB 7005 relating to liability protections for healthcare providers were heard in committee this week.  Despite a number of unfriendly amendments, the bills were reported favorably by their committees of reference, largely along party lines.   

SB 876, expanding the scope of practice for certified optometrists was temporarily postponed by the Senate Health Policy Committee. The bill was postponed due to time constraints. As drafted, the bill would expand the scope of practice to include procedures in or around the eye which do not penetrate the globe of the eyeball. In order to perform designated procedures, an optometrist must receive additional training and certification. The bill will receive another hearing next week.   

HB 9, relating to protecting consumers against pandemic-related fraud, was fast-tracked by the House this week.  The bill passed its final committee of reference on Monday, was heard on second reading on Thursday and passed the full House of Representatives Friday.  As passed, HB 9 prohibits a person from knowingly and willfully making a materially false or misleading statement or disseminating false or misleading information via marketing or advertising materials, on a website, social media platform, or other media, or by telephone, text message, mail, or e-mail:

  • Relating to the characteristics, authenticity, effectiveness, or availability of PPE with the intent to obtain or receive any money or other valuable consideration; or

  • Regarding the availability of, or access to, a vaccine for COVID-19 or any other pandemic disease for the purpose of obtaining personal identification information or money or other valuable consideration.
Thank you FOMA member, Mark Alan Dobbertein, DO, FACS, for serving as Doctor of the Day in the Florida Senate on March 3, 2021.
2021 Legislative Session
Doctor of the Day Program
The Florida Office of Legislative Services is seeking physician volunteers for Session which begins Tuesday, March 2 through Friday, April 30, 2021. A physician volunteer is needed for both House and Senate Chambers each day. Each physician will need a House of Representative or Senate member for sponsorship.

Please contact the FOMA Governmental Relations office for assistance at govaffairs@foma.org or call 850-878-7364. The Florida Legislature has implemented COVID-19 protocols so please review this memo for details and instructions on how to register. 
Legislative Spotlight
HB 7005 Civil Liability for Covid-19-Related Claims Against Certain Health Care Providers by Health & Human Services Committee

Favorable with CS by Pandemics & Public Emergencies Committee; 12 Yeas, 6 Nays

HB 7005 provides heightened liability protections to health care entities for negligence claims by patients and residents arising under existing laws governing medical malpractice and long-term care facility litigation related to COVID-19.

A plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that a defendant was grossly negligent, reckless or committed intentional misconduct to recover under these COVID-19-related medical claims, thus immunizing providers from acts that constitute mere negligence. The bill provides an affirmative defense for defendants who complied with applicable government-issued COVID-19 guidance.

The bill also provides, that a health care provider making a good faith effort to substantially comply with applicable COVID-19 guidance is immune from these negligence claims. 
SB 0074 COVID-19-related Claims Against Health Care Providers by Brandes

Favorable by Health Policy; 5 Yeas, 4 Nays

SB 74 limits civil claims against health care providers related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill requires that the initial complaint in a COVID-19-related lawsuit be pled with particularity. Under the measure, a trial court must dismiss a case if not pled with particularity. As drafted, the bill requires the claimant to prove that the health care provider was grossly negligent or engaged in intentional misconduct in failing to substantially comply with government health standards or guidance. Additionally, a health care provider is immune from civil liability if supplies or personnel were not readily available to comply with the standards or guidance. A COVID-19-related claim against a health care provider must be commenced within 1 year.
HB 0273 Motor Vehicle Insurance Coverage Exclusions by Plakon

Favorable with CS by Insurance & Banking Subcommittee; 12 Yeas, 3 Nays

The bill authorizes the specific exclusion of named drivers from private passenger motor vehicle insurance coverages, except for periods when the excluded named driver is not operating a covered vehicle (e.g., when he or she is a passenger in the vehicle), if the exclusion is discriminatory, or if the exclusion is inconsistent with filed underwriting guidelines. The exclusion of a named driver is contingent upon the written consent of the named insured. The bill requires insurers to list excluded drivers on the policy’s declarations page or on a policy endorsement.
SB 0420 Motor Vehicle Insurance Coverage Exclusions by Hooper

Favorable by Banking and Insurance; 12 Yeas, 0 Nays

SB 420 authorizes private passenger motor vehicle policyholders to exclude identified individuals from the following coverages under their policy:

  • Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage applicable to the identified individual’s injuries, lost wages, and death benefits;
  • Property damage liability coverage;
  • Bodily injury liability coverage, when required by law;
  • Uninsured motorist coverage for any damages sustained by the excluded individual; and
  • Any coverage the policyholder is not required by law to purchase.

Bills Heard in Committee
HB 0009 Protecting Consumers Against Pandemic-related Fraud by Zika

HB 0017 Podiatric Medicine by Bell

HB 0029 Dispensing Medicinal Drugs by Willhite

SB 0058 Hospitals’ Community Benefit Reporting by Rodriguez (A)

SB 0074 COVID-19-related Claims Against Health Care Providers by Brandes

SB 0080 Child Welfare by Brodeur

SB 0130 Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders by Rouson

HB 0149 Students with Disabilities in Public Schools by DuBose

SB 0170 Podiatric Medicine by Hooper

HB 0241 Parents' Bill of Rights by Grall

HB 0245 Massage Therapy by Chaney

SB 0272 Rare Disease Advisory Council by Baxley

HB 0273 Motor Vehicle Insurance Coverage Exclusions by Plakon

HB 0309 Dementia-related Staff Training by Byrd

HB 0319 Substance Abuse Service Providers by Caruso
SB 0340 Supermajority Vote Required to Enact a Single-payor Healthcare System by Diaz

SB 0348 Medicaid by Rodriguez (A)

SB 0380 Child Restraint Requirements by Perry

SB 0404 Office of Minority Health and Health Equity by Rouson

SB 0420 Motor Vehicle Insurance Coverage Exclusions by Hooper

HB 0519 Required Health Education Instruction by Yarborough

SB 0582 Parental Rights by Rodrigues (R)

HB 0651 Recovery of Damages in Claims for Medical Negligence by Roach

HB 0701 Behavioral Health Care Services Coverage and Access by Stevenson

HB 0725 Nonopioid Alternatives Educational Materials by Plakon

HB 0803 Access to Health Care Practitioner Services by Caruso

SB 0804 Substance Abuse Services by Harrell

HB 0833 Unlawful Use of DNA by Tomkow

SB 0876 Optometry by Diaz
The FOMA Opposes the Following
Bills Expanding Scope of Practice
HB 0111 Autonomous Practice by an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse by Maggard

SB 0160 Prescriptive Authority Certification for Psychologists by Brandes

SB 0424 Autonomous Practice by Advanced Practice Registered Nurses by Brandes

HB 0431 Practice of Physician Assistants by Rommel

HB 0631 Optometry by Rizo

HB 0687 Prescriptive Authority Certification for Psychologists by Alexander

SB 0876 Optometry by Diaz

SB 0894 Physician Assistants by Diaz

HB 1299 Autonomous Physician Assistants by Rizo
Bill Tracking
Please see the link below containing a list of all legislation filed to date. Let us know if you have any specific areas of interest or concern.

Legislative Session Calendar - Week 2
Monday Mar 8, 2021   
H Finance & Facilities Subcommittee, 102 H - 10:00AM-12:00PM        
  • HB 1057 - Agency for Health Care Administration by Garrison  
  • HB 1157 - Freestanding Emergency Departments by Koster  
  • HB 1219 - Hospital, Hospital System, or Provider Organization Transactions by Grall  
Tuesday Mar 9, 2021

H Professions & Public Health, 212 K - 9:30AM-11:30AM

  • HB 1455 - Regulation of Medical Marijuana by Roach

S Judiciary, 412 K  - 11:45AM-3:15PM      

  • SB 0420 - Motor Vehicle Insurance Coverage Exclusions by Hooper
  • SB 0846 - Medical Expenses by Brandes  

H Health & Human Services, 17 H - 4:00PM-5:00PM

  • HB 0017 - Podiatric Medicine by Bell
  • HB 0029 - Dispensing Medicinal Drugs by Willhite
  • HB 0133 - Surrendered Newborns by Harding
  • HB 0725 - Nonopioid Alternatives Educational Materials by Plakon

Wednesday Mar 10, 2021

S Banking and Insurance, 412 K  - 8:00AM-10:00AM   
  •  SB 0686 - Offers of Judgment by Brandes  

S Health Policy, 412 K - 10:30AM-12:30PM       

  •  SB 0876 - Optometry by Diaz  
  •  SB 0262 - Dispensing Medicinal Drugs by Harrell  
  •  SB 1064 - Hospital, Hospital System, or Provider Organization Transactions by Brodeur  

The agendas for Thursday and Friday are not available at this time.
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