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Omnibus health care bills headed to House floor

A House committee approved two health care bills today that now include various member priorities whose sponsors worry don't have the traction to gain passage in the Senate on their own.

For example, HB 7113, initially only focused on grandfathering in three HCA-trauma centers under court challenge. Now it also includes requirements that doctors consult the state's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, authorization allowing highly trained nurses to practice independently, regulations for virtual doctor visits for certain types of medical providers and a statewide medical tourism marketing plan

All of those measures are found in various bills that are still making their way through the House committee process, but time is running out. And then there is one topic added to the bill that isn't in any bills currently under review: a provision to allow safety net hospitals to open new locations without going through the normal review process.

A second omnibus bill, HB 573, also passed overwhelming. It took a Senate priority -- assisted-living facilities regulations -- and added on a limited grandparent visitation laws and changes to the types of post-operation recovery centers that can attend to patients outside of hospitals.

Rep. Matt Hudson, the House's health care budget chief, said the size and scope of the revised trauma bill should not scare off support since the various proposals have been individually vetted.

"For those that say we tacked too much on this bill and what's not good or what is good: You know what, I'm sorry," Hudson, R-Naples, said.

The Health and Human Services Committee approved the new omnibus version of HB 7113 overwhelming, with two Republican members voting no. Rep. John Wood of Winter Haven and Rep. Gayle Harrell, of Port St. Lucie said there were too many provisions they disagreed with. (UPDATE: It was Rep. Doc Renuart, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, who joined Harrell in voting "no" on HB 7113.)

"I think that the bad outweighs the good on this bill," Harrell said.

The Senate Appropriations Committee will take up its version of the trauma bill, SB 1276, this afternoon and there are not any amendments filed that would make it an omnibus proposal like the house version.

The ALF reform bill passed with dissent from two Democrats, Rep. Mia Jones of Jacksonville and Rep. Joe Gibbons of Hallandale Beach. (UPDATE: Rep. Amanda Murphy, D-New Port Richey, also voted "no" on HB 573.)

Meanwhile, the Senate's version of the ALF reform bill passed that chamber unanimously three weeks ago. The House could have taken up SB 248 but instead will try to force the Senate to accept its version with other topics added.