Legislative Interim Committee Update, Week 3
October 25, 2021

Paul D. Seltzer, DO, Legislative Chair
Stephen R. Winn, ED
Michelle W. Larson, Assoc. ED
Jason D. Winn, Esq.
For the first time since the start of interim committees, the legislature began hearing legislation during the third week of scheduled meetings, in addition to reports from state agencies and policy workshops. Moving forward, we anticipate the pace of bill filings and hearings to increase substantially during the final three weeks of interim committees.   

On Thursday, October 21, 2021, the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Subcommittee passed HB 95 relating to controlled substance offenses -- 14 yeas and 4 nays.  HB 95 amends s. 782.04(1)(a)3., F.S., to change the causation requirement for death caused by the unlawful distribution of a controlled substance, requiring that such distribution is proven to “have caused, or is proven to have been a substantial factor in producing the death of the user.” “Substantial factor” is defined to mean the “use of the substance or mixture alone is sufficient to cause death, regardless of whether any other substance or mixture used is also sufficient to cause death.”
Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez & Steve Winn
Recently, Florida has been confronted with a new health crisis in the opioid epidemic. In 2019, Governor DeSantis created the Statewide Task Force on Opioid Abuse (Task Force) and directed the Task Force to develop a statewide strategy to identify best practices to combat the opioid epidemic through education, treatment, prevention, recovery, and law enforcement, and compile a report containing legislative recommendations.

The bill amends s. 782.04(1)(a)3., F.S., to implement a recommendation of the Task Force by adding methamphetamine to the list of specified controlled substances which, if the substance caused or is proven to have been a substantial factor in producing the victim’s death, can subject the person who distributed the controlled substance to a conviction for first degree murder.

The bill also amends s. 893.13(1)(h), F.S., to implement a second recommendation of the Task Force by increasing the penalties for sale of a controlled substance from a third-degree felony to a second-degree felony, and from a second-degree felony to a first-degree felony, when the offense is committed within 1,000 feet of a substance abuse treatment facility.
Chairman William Cloud 'Will' Robinson - House professions, and Public Health Subcommittee
On Wednesday, October 20, 2021, the House professions, and Public Health Subcommittee heard from a panel of ophthalmologists and optometrists regarding the professions. The discussion primarily centered on training, professional demographics, scope of practice expansion for optometrists, expanding access to care and maintaining needed patient protections. According to the ophthalmologists on the panel, there are no access-to-care issues in Florida regarding ophthalmology – ninety-nine percent of Floridians have access to an ophthalmologist within a thirty-minute drive. The optometrists on the panel did not agree with this point, pushing, in part, for expansion of scope based on access.   
The panel also discussed disparities in training. According to the Department of Health’s side-by-side comparison of the professions, optometrists do not meet post-graduate training obligations required for ophthalmologists. Optometrists on the panel claim that such extensive medical training is not required to perform certain surgical procedures, dismissing patient protection concerns.

The FOMA will continue to monitor this issue.  To date, no legislation has been filed expanding the scope of practice for optometrists.  

For a copy of the Committee Packet, please click here.    

To see the meeting achieve as listed on the Florida Channel, click here.
ACHA Secretary Simone Marstiller, provided an update regarding Florida’s drug importation program to the House Finance and Facilities Subcommittee. According to the Secretary, the Canadian Drug Importation Plan has been submitted to federal regulators for approval. ACHA anticipates the program will save $150 million annually. Florida is the first state to seek approval the importation of drugs from Canada.   
Once the program is approved by the FDA, AHCA will begin the final implementation steps, including a pre-import request with the FDA. The program is to be implemented in a phased approach to distribution, beginning with partner agencies, to ensure safety and compliance with all FDA guidelines. According to Secretary Marstiller, AHCA will initiate Phase 2 for Medicaid members after safety and compliance has been verified as outlined in Phase 1. Following Phase 2, ACHA will consider expanding importation opportunities to other state programs.  
The State’s importation facility is completed and was licensed by DBPR. During the press conference announcing the facility's completion, Governor DeSantis called on the FDA to approve Florida’s Section 804 Importation Program (SIP). Secretary Marstiller advised the world-class facility would utilize fifty-three thousand square feet of space; however, more space could be made available as the program expands. Marstiller hinted at the potential use of the facility to support mail order operations stating, “…should we decide it’s the right thing to do, also engage in mail order operations if needed.” LifeScience Logistic will support agency operations.  
For a copy of the Committee Packet, please click here.  
To see the meeting achieve as listed on the Florida Channel, click here.
Legislative Spotlight
Medical Malpractice
HB 6011 Recovery of Damages in Claims for Medical Negligence by Roach
This bill would allow the parent of an adult child to sue under medical malpractice.  Presently, Florida is the only state that prohibits such lawsuits. Similar language passed out of the full House last session but died in the Senate.   
HB 0017 Telehealth Practice Standards by Fabricio

This legislation would allow any controlled substance not listed as Schedule II to be prescribed through telehealth. Under the proposed language, Schedule II substances could only be prescribed through telehealth under the following circumstances: the treatment of a psychiatric disorder; Inpatient treatment at a hospital licensed under chapter 395; the treatment of a patient receiving hospice service, and the treatment of a nursing-home facility resident. This language almost passed last session, dying due to other policy considerations within the larger legislative package.   
HB 0167 Abortion by Barnaby

The bill requires a physician to conduct tests for the presence of a detectable fetal heartbeat, prohibiting all abortions when a fetal heartbeat is verified. In addition, the bill authorizes a private civil cause of action for certain violations and provides for civil remedies and damages.
Scope of Practice
HB 0319 Prescriptive Authority Certification for Psychologists by Alexander

Prescriptive Authority Certification for Psychologists: Requires Board of Psychology to certify specified psychologists to exercise prescriptive authority; requires board to develop procedures & adopt rules relating to prescriptive authority certification; requires each applicant for renewal to complete continuing education; requires prescribing psychologist who is authorized to prescribe controlled substances to file his or her federal Drug Enforcement Administration registration number; requires Board of Psychology to transmit specified information to the Board of Pharmacy. Effective Date: July 1, 2022
Health Insurance
SB 0564 Health Insurance by Harrell

Health Insurance; Prohibiting health maintenance organizations from excluding coverage for certain cancer treatment drugs; prohibiting insurers and health maintenance organizations from excluding coverage for certain drugs on certain grounds; specifying a requirement for the prior authorization form adopted by the Financial Services Commission by rule; specifying requirements for, and restrictions on, health insurers and pharmacy benefits managers relating to prior authorization information, requirements, restrictions, and changes, etc. Effective Date: 1/1/2023
COVID Liability
SB 0610 COVID-19-related Claims by Brandes

Extending the timeframe for which COVID-19-related claims may be brought against health care providers to December 31, 2023.
Bill Tracking
To review the legislation contained in the tracking report in greater detail:

  • Click on the Bill Number Link.

  • This will take you to a shared LobbyTools webpage.
  • Find the section titled Bill Text and Amendments

  • Click on the PDF link
Interim Calendar 2021

  • November 1 – November 5
  • November 15 – November 19
  • November 29 – December 3
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