Florida legislators line up maternal health, provider reimbursement bills

Florida policymakers have added a number of health bills on their agenda with two weeks left to go before the 2022 Legislative Session. Here are the latest bills to watch, from prescription drug transparency to addressing poor maternal health outcomes.

 

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HB 693 – Department of Health’s Outreach to Pregnant Women

This bill includes clarifications that direct the Department of Health (DOH) to provide outreach to at-risk pregnant women. Specifically, the bill directs DOH to encourage at-risk pregnant women to get tested for HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases and provide information about their diagnosis and treatment options. The bill also links treatment for pregnant women with substance use disorders more closely with behavioral health services. Another addition to the bill says DOH will provide continued care for newborns exposed or diagnosed with HIV. 

Representative Brad Drake (R – Holmes) filed the bill, which now sits in the House Professions and Public Health Subcommittee. 

Florida’s maternal mortality rate of 26.8 deaths per 100,000 exceeded the national average of 20.1 maternal deaths per 100,000 in 2019, according to the latest report from America’s Health Rankings. The same report identified high-risk HIV behaviors as a core negative measure impacting maternal health in Florida. Approximately 10.8% of women ages 18-44 fell in this category in 2019.

HB 657 – Medical Education Reimbursement and Loan Repayment Program

Through this program, DOH provides licensed health care providers with reimbursement funds for medical education expenses— $4,000-$10,000 per year for nurses and up to $20,000 for physicians. Previously, providers were eligible for funds if they served “an underserved area designated by the Department of Health.” HB 657 adds language that would specifically aid providers who serve areas with at least 50% of patients of ethnic or racial minorities. 

Florida is projected to have a shortage of nearly 18,000 physicians by 2035, prompting hospital leaders to request more state and federal funding.

HB 633 – Insurance Coverages for Drugs and Medical Procedures and Treatments

Representative Allison Tant (D – Leon) filed a bill that would increase transparency and access to certain prescription drugs and medical treatments. The bill would prohibit health insurers and managed care organizations (MCOs) from requiring other treatments for stage 4 metastatic cancer to fail before allowing certain drug prescriptions. The bill also includes language that would clarify timeframes and requirements for prescription drug prior-authorization forms. Although it was filed for the 2022 session, the bill would not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2023.