Representative Yvonne Hinson (Gainesville) and Senator Victor M. Torres, Jr. (Orlando) filed bills HB 373 and SB 1742, respectively, to increase transparency in Florida’s health care system. The legislation would address denials of care by requiring hospitals and health care institutions that refuse to provide care for nonmedical reasons to disclose that fact to patients and to inform the Florida Department of Health.
Collectively filed on Jan 7 to establish the Health Care Transparency Act, the pair of bills were heard in the House and Senate on Wednesday afternoon, where the Senate bill was referred to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services.
“Too many Floridians have few choices to access affordable healthcare services in their local communities,” said Torres. “If hospitals and medical providers refuse services then people living in those communities should be made aware of these discriminatory business practices so that they can recruit healthcare providers willing to accept all available patients and not pick and choose the populations they want to serve.”
Under the pair of bills, health providers would have until Oct. 1, 2022, to adopt a policy for providing patients with a complete list of their refused services. A covered entity would be required to provide written notice to the patient or the patient’s representative which includes the complete list of its refused services before any health care service is initiated. In the case of an emergency, the covered entity must promptly provide written notice after the patient is capable of receiving such notice or when the patient’s representative is available. By January 1, 2023, providers would be legally required to publish and maintain on their websites a current list of covered entities and refused services.
“Everyone deserves access to care without discrimination,” said Representative Hinson. “Floridians are entitled to full transparency with regard to the services refused by a provider. No one should waste time and energy to be turned away at a health care facility because they were unaware of the provider’s denial. This legislation will empower Floridians to make better health care decisions while ensuring quality care for all.”
In the context of the bills, the term “Covered entity” refers to any health care facility that uses, plans to use, or relies upon denial of care provision to refuse to provide a health care service, or referral for a health care service, for any reason, though the term does not include health care practitioners.
Notably, If applying for any state grant or contract related to providing a health care service, a covered entity must submit, along with its application, a complete list of its refused services. A covered entity that fails to comply with this Florida would be subject to a fine not exceeding $5,000 for each day that the covered entity is not in compliance.