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PIP Repeal Stalls, Spending Plans Full Speed Ahead
Thursday, 08 April 2021
Friday, April 9, 2021, Tallahassee – Plans proposing to repeal and replace Florida’s decades-old No-fault auto insurance system remained stalled again this week on both sides of the capitol, as lawmakers finished their sixth week of the Legislature’s annual nine-week session. Senators once again deferred consideration of their plan, SB 54, though teed-up and ready for consideration on the floor, while the House plan, HB 719, remained stuck in neutral, waiting for its second of three referenced committee hearings.

But over in the dollars-and-cents lane, it was full speed ahead. Senators gave unanimous approval to their $95-billion budget on Wednesday, while the House followed on Thursday approving their slightly more generous $97-billion plan to likewise fund state government for FY 2021-2022. The Senate president and House Speaker are now in a posture to appoint their respective members to a conference committee to begin work hammering out the differences between the two plans. Standing committees are continuing to finish their meetings as lawmakers shift their focus to both budget work and floor debate.
  
Several other issues of interest to the profession saw action this week, while others remain at a standstill. Here’s the latest as we enter the last third of this year’s session.  

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Budget Plans Readied at Session Mid-point
Thursday, 01 April 2021
Friday, April 2, 2021, Tallahassee – Lawmakers spent most of Wednesday this week, the Session’s mid-point, readying their proposed budgets for state government spending for FY 2021-22. The House-proposed budget was approved in the top House budget committee on Wednesday, while the Senate Appropriations Committee gave a nod to their version on the same day. Both plans are now ready for final consideration by each chamber, after which a conference committee will be formed to start the work of hammering out the differences between the two spending plans.

This week also saw the first bill of the session heading to the Governor’s desk. Providing Florida businesses, healthcare workers, and others with COVID-related liability protections is among the top priorities of Gov. DeSantis this year and on Monday he signed the bill into law. (For complete details see the article below.) 
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CMS: Temporary Claims Hold Pending Congressional Action to Extend 2% Sequester Reduction Suspension
Thursday, 01 April 2021
(From CMS Newsletter of March 30, 2021)  "In anticipation of possible Congressional action to extend the 2% sequester reduction suspension, we instructed the Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) to hold all claims with dates of service on or after April 1, 2021, for a short period without affecting providers’ cash flow. This will minimize the volume of claims the MACs must reprocess if Congress extends the suspension; the MACs will automatically reprocess any claims paid with the reduction applied if necessary." 
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Senate Passes Bill Delaying Medicare Sequester Cuts
Friday, 26 March 2021

(From Modern Healthcare)  The U.S. Senate voted Thursday to delay Medicare payment cuts for the rest of the year, a big win for hospitals and providers.   The 2% cuts originally took effect in 2013 but were paused by Congress last year in response to the pandemic and its effect on providers' finances.  The cuts totaling $18 billion were scheduled to resume next week absent Congressional action. 

The legislation still needs consideration by the House.  Please stay tuned for more news and potential calls to action.  Profound thanks to all FCA members who reached out to Senators Rubio and Scott through this past week's email campaign posted on the FCA website.

 
Early Budget Plans Unveiled as Session Nears Mid-point
Friday, 26 March 2021
Friday, March 26, 2021, Tallahassee – Lawmakers this week released the earliest drafts of their state government spending plans as we near the halfway point of their 60-day annual legislative session next week. Senate budget chief Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) announced yesterday that the Senate will begin hearings on their plan starting on March 31st.

A bill forcing the collection of sales taxes on online purchases could likely be the first bill to reach the Governor’s desk this session. By at 30 to 10 vote the Senate on Thursday gave their nod of approval to SB 50 offered by Sen. Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota) which is now headed to the House. Estimates place the value of those collections at close to $1-billion which the Senate plan earmarks to replenish the pandemic-depleted unemployment trust fund saving Florida businesses from unemployment tax increases of up to 700%.

While committees continue to meet for the next several weeks, they will start to wind down their hearings as more time is devoted in both the House and Senate to debating bills on the floor and moving them to final passage. Though anything is still possible, bills that have not started their trek through the committee process will soon litter the landscape, losing their chance for a final blessing. Nevertheless, here’s a look at some of the issues still very much alive – plus several others now on life support – based on lawmakers actions this last week.

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