As lawmakers head home, review of health care bills sent to DeSantis

After 60 tumultuous days of fighting over abortion, immigration and LGBTQ+ issues, the Florida Legislature ended its annual session on Friday by unanimously passing a $117 billion state budget.

However, after the traditional show of hands and sine die declaration closed the session, lawmakers left the Capitol with a pile of bills on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk.

Many of them are related to health care.

Backed by Republican majorities in both chambers, DeSantis is leading a session that reflects a hard-right philosophy that has gained momentum during COVID-19. After initially agreeing to a pandemic shutdown, DeSantis soon established himself as one of the GOP’s most aggressive critics of federal public health measures.

Amid heavy criticism from Democrats, DeSantis has already signed controversial legislation to ban abortions in the sixth week of pregnancy.

Also signed into law are restrictions on pharmacy benefit managers and increased penalties related to fentanyl.

But there is more. To catch up on two months of legislation, here’s a list of health-related measures ready for the governor’s consideration:

Transgender Treatments: (CS/SB 254): Makes it a third-degree felony for health care providers to provide gender-affirming treatment such as puberty blockers, hormone therapy or surgical procedures to minors. Adults seeking such treatment must sign a consent form and treatment must be administered by a physician. Prevents the use of telehealth in providing such treatments. Establishes civil liability for providers who provide such treatment to minors.

Abortion Limits (SB 300): Prevents abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Allows exemptions for abortions up to 15 weeks in documented cases of rape, incest or human trafficking. Requires abortion drugs to be provided in person by physicians. Prevents abortions through telehealth. Expands services through organizations that counsel women against abortion. The law depends on the outcome of a dispute in the Florida Supreme Court over whether the privacy clause in the state constitution protects abortion rights. Signed by the Governor.

Prescription drugs: (CS/SB 1550): Requires accountability among pharmacy benefit managers, creates transparency on prescription price increases, and designates a contact for consumer complaints involving pharmacy benefit managers. Signed by the Governor.

Nursing Home Aid (SB 558): Allows certified nursing assistants to train as “qualified medication aides,” allowing them to administer certain medications to nursing home residents under the supervision of a nurse.

KidCare Extension (HB 121): Increases Florida KidCare’s subsidized health insurance coverage for families with incomes up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level, or $90,000 for a family of four.

Sickle cell (HB 1481): Requires the State Department of Health to establish and maintain a sickle cell registry and to require certain providers to notify newborn and infant physicians of certain screening results associated with sickle cell hemoglobin variants.

Menstrual Products in Schools (CS/HB 389): Ensures tampons and sanitary napkins are available to public school students free of charge.

Penalties for Fentanyl (CS/HC 1359): Increases criminal penalties for people who sell or trade fentanyl (or similar controlled substances) that looks like candy, food, cereal, gum, chewing gum, etc., or sells to minors. Signed by the Governor.

Hemp Regulations (SB 1676): Enforces child safety rules in the marketing of hemp products. Includes penalties for “mislabeling” or creating packages that are “appealing” to anyone under 21.

Hospital violence (HB 825): Increases criminal penalties for assault or battery on hospital staff.

Immigration (SB 1718): The sweeping immigration bill includes a provision requiring hospitals that accept Medicaid to ask on admission forms whether patients are U.S. citizens and in the country legally. The form also informs patients that responses do not affect care and do not result in a report to immigration authorities.

Tax Exemption: (HB 7063): Revises provisions related to taxation, including tax exemptions on baby diapers and adult incontinence products.

Pandemic Discrimination (CS/SB 252): Prohibits businesses and government agencies from denying service to people who refuse to wear masks or get tested for COVID-19. It prohibits firing or refusing to hire people based on the person’s “recovery status from infection or failure to get tested for COVID-19.”

Kratom Regulations (CS/HB 179): Sets the age limit for purchasing and consuming kratom at 21.

Marijuana Renewal (CS/HB 387): Allows qualified physicians to perform examinations and evaluations of patients via telehealth for the renewal of medical marijuana certificates under certain circumstances. Allows more licenses for farmers to enter cannabis production.

Student’s IEP (CS/HB 19): Allows parents of minors with disabilities to remain included in their child’s individual education plan until age 22

This report used information from the AP, News Service of Florida, WUSF and WFSU.

Copyright 2023 Health News Florida

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