Florida house bills to provide veterans behavioral health care, homelessness assistance

Several bills filed this month in the House could have significant impacts on Florida’s health care system, including one that would authorize the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to establish the Florida Veterans’ Care Coordination Program. If established, the program will provide veterans and their families with behavioral health services.

The bill, HB 231, was filed by Rep. Ardian Zika on Jan.13. The bill was then referred to the House Local Administration and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee and the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee on Jan. 22.

 

Get the latest state-specific policy intelligence for the health care sector delivered to your inbox.

 

The bill will allow the department to contract nonprofits that enter into agreements with the Florida 211 program. The program provides free phone service, 24-hour, phone service where Floridians can call in and be referred to a medical provider. Contracted services will use the 211 program to refer veterans and their to behavioral health professionals.

The goals of the bill are to prevent veteran suicides and to increase veterans usage of the Department of Veteran Affairs.

If passed, HB 231 would take effect on July 1.

Other bills filed in January include HB 243, which would provide funding for the Lee Memorial Health System. House Bill 2151 would provide $100,000 in funding towards the Jewish Family Service – Mental Health First Aid Coalition.

House Bill 2003 would dedicate $875,000 from the Florida General Revenue Fund to the Department of Veterans’ Affair for the St. Lucie County Homeless Veterans Assistance Center.

The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee will meet on Wednesday at noon. The Senate Health Policy committee will meet at 9 a.m. on the same day.

Florida’s 2021 legislative session begins on March 2 and runs until April 30.