TALLAHASSEE — With just two days left in the session, lawmakers are expected to take up bills Thursday relating to abortion, Medicaid and prescription drug abuse.
Much of the action is in the Senate, which is scheduled to vote on a hotly debated Medicaid bill that would expand HMO and managed-care control over the $22 billion program. A priority of House Speaker Dean Cannon, Medicaid reform stalled as Senate leaders balked over particulars of how to manage care in different regions and how to guarantee a set amount of health care spending or savings.
The Senate also is slated to vote on two abortion bills already passed in the House. One, HB 1127, is a controversial measure that would require women seeking an abortion to be given the opportunity to see ultrasound images and have them described to her. The Legislature passed a similar measure last year, but then-Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed it. Gov. Rick Scott has said he would have signed the bill. The year's proposal is less severe, giving women the ability to waive the ultrasound review.
The second bill ready for a vote in the Senate, HB 1247, would tighten requirements for parental notification when a minor seeks an abortion. That would happen in part by forcing minors to get a judicial waiver for parental notification in their community's circuit court, rather than the wider reaching court of appeal. Supporters of that measure say it would prevent teens from crossing the state to find a sympathetic judge. Opponents say it infringes on the privacy of young women who live in tiny communities.
Also on the Senate's agenda: A proposal aimed at the state's prescription drug abuse epidemic. SB 18, sponsored by Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, makes it easier to prosecute pill mill operators and imposes tougher penalties on those who improperly dispense prescription drugs. Likely one of the first matters the Senate will take up with the bill is removal of a provision that allocates $1.75 million in funding for a prescription drug monitoring database. That's something both the House and Gov. Scott have said they won't agree to.