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New laws to affect insurance, museums

TALLAHASSEE — Legislation changing a health insurance billing procedure, which drew support from doctors and opposition from consumer advocates, became law on Wednesday with Gov. Charlie Crist's signature.

Crist also signed laws prohibiting local governments from spending public dollars to sway voters on ballot issues and closing a loophole that has let some corporations avoid taxes on real estate transactions. Another measure may make it more difficult for museums to display preserved human bodies.

The health insurance law (SB 1122) will require insurers to send payments directly to out-of-network doctors instead of to patients. Crist wrote in a signing statement that some patients get insurance checks and then fail to pay their medical bills.

The Consumer Federation of the Southeast, Associated Industries of Florida and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees had argued it would remove a key incentive for doctors to offer discounts for in-network services.

The law (SB 2430) closing a documentary stamp tax loophole reverses a Florida Supreme Court ruling that the tax need not be paid if a corporation is created to take title of real estate and then the corporation is sold.

The preserved bodies law (SB 414) would require a museum to show the bodies came from willing donors or else get approval from the state's anatomical board.

Crist vetoed two bills.

One (SB 718) would have allowed Duval County to impose a sales tax, with the proceeds going to indigent care and trauma centers, without voter approval.

The other (HB 739) would let community colleges charge transportation access fees that could be used to provide students with free or discounted bus service. Crist wrote that he couldn't support charging students up to $200 per year for a service they may not use.

New laws to affect insurance, museums 06/10/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 11:16pm]
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