Advertisement
  1. Florida Politics
  2. /
  3. The Buzz

Heart surgery bill gets new life

The proposal, which seeks to catch problems at children’s heart surgery programs, had stalled earlier in the session.
Sen. Gayle Harrell at a Florida Senate committee hearing.
Sen. Gayle Harrell at a Florida Senate committee hearing.
Published Apr. 24

With the end of this year’s legislative session drawing near, the Florida Senate is making a final push to increase oversight of children’s heart surgeries.

Earlier this year, Sen. Gayle Harrell filed a bill that would let pediatric heart doctors make unannounced visits to struggling programs and recommend corrective action. But the proposal (SB 1126) stalled, and a companion bill in the House (HB 1207) was gutted in late March.

Last week, Harrell gave the measure new life by adding it to SB 7078. That bill covers a wide range of health care and health insurance issues, and includes a closely watched provision that would allow overnight stays at ambulatory surgery centers.

SB 7078 is now poised for a vote on the Senate floor. It would need the support of the Florida House to become law.

The session is scheduled to end next Friday.

The push to better regulate pediatric heart surgery programs follows a Tampa Bay Times

investigation that uncovered serious safety problems at the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. In November, the Times reported that the mortality rate for heart surgery patients at the hospital had tripled in two years.

Harrell’s proposal seeks to expand the powers of the state Pediatric Cardiology Technical Advisory Panel, a group of pediatric heart doctors and surgeons that has been writing standards for programs across Florida. It would let the panel appoint physicians to inspect troubled programs. While on site visits, the physicians would be able to examine the facilities, interview employees and review mortality reports.

When asked Wednesday about putting the language back in play, Harrell smiled.

“I am just very positive on making sure that we take care of our children so I’m still working very hard,” the Stuart Republican said.

In addition, the Senate’s budget proposal includes a $150,000 allocation for the Pediatric Cardiac Technical Advisory Panel “to ensure compliance with quality and safety standards of pediatric cardiac hospitals.”

The House’s original budget proposal did not include any money for the panel, but budget negotiations are underway.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Kerry Kriseman, right, beside husband Mayor Rick Kriseman. Kerry Kriseman announced Friday she has cancer. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]
    Kerry Kriseman announced the news Friday on Facebook. She said the prognosis is good.
  2. The walkable waterfront hamlet of Apalachicola, founded in 1831 on Apalachicola Bay, is shrouded in overcast on Tuesday. The town is home to oyster boats and shrimp boats which make their daily pilgrimages into the seafood-rich bay. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
    Florida filed the lawsuit against Georgia in 2013, though battles about water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system date to the 1990s.
  3. At the request of a state lawmaker, Citizens Property Insurance Co.’s board is again bringing in an outside evaluator to help the insurer decide if and how to cull its policyholder base. Pictured is  Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) (left) and Barry Gilway, CEO of Citizens. [Courtesy of Sen. Jeff Brandes and Citizens Property Insurance Co.]
    At the request of St. Petersburg Sen. Jeff Brandes, the insurer will look for ways to shrink.
  4. Blackwater River Correctional Facility. [Florida Department of Corrections]
    An audit spells out how short-term savings, realized between 2011 and 2014, are now costing taxpayers millions and leading to settlements from successful class-action lawsuits on behalf of inmates.
  5. Yuma, the Florida panther cub, explores his new enclosure at the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park in 2014. The young panther will live out his days at the park after being rescued in January 2014 from the wild near Naples at about one-week of age. He had been abandoned. Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park had a ceremony Thursday morning with a couple speeches explaining Yuma's circumstances which were followed by a brief countdown for the opening of a gate allowing Yuma to enter his new enclosure. [DAMASKE, JIM   |  Tampa Bay Times]
    It would “basically be a disaster for the panther,” a federal biologist wrote in assessment.
  6. A trial court ruling barring two women from entering an Orlando strip club without a man has caused a constitutional chain reaction. Miami Beach argues that local human rights ordinances are under attack, and the city is leading an effort to overturn the ruling. [STEVEN JOHNSON | Miami Herald]
    On Thursday, Miami Beach led a coalition of 21 municipalities, including Tampa, Pinellas County and Dunedin, in filing a brief urging the overturn of a May decision voiding local protections of civil...
  7. This Feb. 19 photo shows a makeshift memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and faculty were killed in a mass shooting in Parkland. [AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File]
    The grand jury said districts are creating “unnecessary chaos” and have become “experts at data manipulation.”
  8. Council member Ed Montanari, left, was elected St. Petersburg City Council chair for 2020. Council member Gina Driscoll was voted vice-chair. [Times (2019)]
    The chairman guides the council through meetings and generally speak last on issues.
  9. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks during a House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) [ALEX BRANDON  |  AP]
    Gaetz declined a breathalyzer test, but the charges were dropped anyway.
  10. Rep. Ben Diamond, D-St. Petersburg, presents his bill on civics education to the House PreK-12 Innovation subcommittee on Dec. 11, 2019. The legislation received unanimous bipartisan support. [The Florida Channel]
    ‘Democracy is not a spectator sport,’ sponsor Rep. Ben Diamond reminds colleagues.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement