With the legislative session set to end next week, this edition of “5 Things We’re Watching” features details on some of the health policy currently on the move.
I also wanted to take this opportunity to announce that Vern Smith, Ph.D., will be State of Reform’s new host for our spring events! Dr. Smith brings 30 years of health policy experience to the State of Reform team and will be a great addition to our 2022 Florida State of Reform Health Policy Conference, which is coming up on May 18. You can find more information on our upcoming conference below!
State of Reform
1. Health leaders discuss Medicaid, BH, and VBC
Four health care leaders offered an on-the-ground look at Florida’s health care system at our 2022 State of Reform Federal Health Policy Conference last month. The conversation touched on behavioral health, community-based care, and the move toward value-based payment models.
Beth Kidder, managing principal at HMA and former Florida deputy secretary for Medicaid, highlighted the need for accountability and transparency within the state’s Medicaid program. She also underscored the importance of a multi-silo effort to assist with the impending Medicaid eligibility redetermination process. “This is something where I think all stakeholders who have any part in health care will need to be aware of,” she said.
2. House passes PSYPACT bill
On Friday the House unanimously passed HB 953—a bill that would add Florida to the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact. The bill would allow Florida psychologists to provide telepsychology or temporary in-person services to out-of-state patients. This, says supporters of the bill, would help address workforce shortages and ensure more continuous access to care.
During a committee hearing on the bill, state leaders testified that the compact would be particularly helpful for youth in need of behavioral health services who might leave for college or move out of the area where they began receiving services. HRSA estimates by 2030 there will be a shortage of 1,420 clinical, counseling, and school psychologists in Florida. The bill has been referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
3. Early Bird registration is now open!
In case you missed it, Early Bird registration is now open for the 2022 Florida State of Reform Health Policy Conference! So, if you already know you want to be with us and a few hundred of your closest friends in Florida health care, you can save a few bucks and get signed up now to join us on May 18.
Our Convening Panel is currently reviewing and commenting on our Topical Agenda, which we will release in a few weeks’ time. If you have any topics, speakers, or content ideas, we would love to hear them. And, if you already know that you want to join us in May, be sure to take advantage of the discounted price and register today! Our Early Bird rates end next Friday, March 11.
4. 15-week abortion ban bill approved by Senate committee
Last week, HB 5, which would place a nearly no-exceptions ban on abortions after 15 weeks of gestation, moved out of the Senate Appropriations Committee on a 13-6 vote after passing the House. On Monday, the bill was placed on Special Order Calendar for today.
Earlier this month, over 600 Florida health care professionals, including Shelly Holmstrom, M.D., a Tampa-based obstetrician-gynecologist and District XII chair of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, sent an open letter calling for legislators to oppose the bill. Holmstrom told State of Reform: “Any sort of interference between a physician and their patient—anything that’s legislative and not evidence-based or science-backed—is really inappropriate.”
5. DCF receives additional rental relief funds
OUR Florida, the state’s emergency rental assistance program under the Department of Children and Families, announced last week that it had hired additional staff and made system improvements to process program applications. The program has distributed over $968 million in relief and has served over 180,000 households since May 2021. DCF recently announced that the state had received an additional $740.4 million to continue operating the program.
Research shows 25% of Floridians struggle to afford stable housing, leading to negative behavioral health outcomes and, in some cases, barriers to receiving behavioral health care and substance use disorder treatment. For eligible applicants, OUR Florida offers renters up to 15 months of rent and utility assistance, both for past due and upcoming payments.