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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Solantic-inspired bill passes House and Senate health committees



A bill that would require some health care providers to post their prices for frequently offered services sailed through House and Senate committees on Wednesday. Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Trinity, sponsor of HB 935, said he was inspired to craft the "Health Care Price Transparency" legislation by Solantic, the chain of urgent care clinics owned by Gov. Rick Scott. Corcoran worked two years ago for Solantic, assisting with business development. A menu-style listing of costs for services is a hallmark of the company. 

The prices posted must be those charged to uninsured patients paying for medical treatment with cash, check, credit or debit cards. Urgent care clinics owned by hospitals would be required to post prices. Primary care physicians would have an option to post prices. In exchange, they would be exempt from one state-mandated two-year reporting period of continuing medical education credits.  Solantic would not benefit form the legislation at all, Corcoran said.

The proposal raised questions from Rep. Ronald Renuart, R-Ponte Vedra beach, who is a doctor. 

"I have some very serious concerns," he said after the bill was presented to the House Health and Human Services Access subcommittee. "The price of a medical visit is really rather confusing." 

He then launched into an explanation of how insurance companies determine how much to pay providers for care and how posting prices might impact that. Cash patients, he said, get a discounted price.

"The pricing, it's not a straightforward thing in an office that deals with insurance," he said. "The only benefit that this transparecny has is for a pure cash urgent care center or a center that just deals with cash. There are very few of these in the state."

Corcoran responded: "It's being done right now in the state of Florida and it's being done successfully and consumers are benefiting. The quality of care and the cost of the care is lower and better."

Corcoran never mentioned Solantic at the hearing.

"Solantic's become such a bad word," he said afterwards. 

A companion bill, SB 1419, sponsored by Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, was passed unanimously Wednesday by the subcommittee on Health and Human Services Appropriations with no discussion. Renuart cast the lone no vote in the House committee.

[Last modified: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 6:14pm]


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