FCA Proposals Advance as Session Hits Midpoint

By FCA Government Affairs Director Jack Hebert and General Counsel Kim Driggers

Tallahassee – As state lawmakers headed into the second half of their legislative session this week, two proactive bills requested by the FCA continued to advance through their committees.

On Tuesday Senate Bill 1474 made its debut in its first Senate committee of reference, the Senate Health Policy Committee. Sponsored by Sen. Jay Trumbull (R-Panama City) the bill proposes two changes to Ch. 460, the statutes regulating chiropractic. First, the bill seeks to fix a recently discovered problem for chiropractic graduates awaiting Florida licensure by changing an archaic statute that requires applicants for licensure to have received a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. college or university – after having graduated from chiropractic college and having passed the national board exam. Second, the bill also seeks to provide statutory clarity in the scope of practice for DCs already trained and providing patients with dry needling therapy.

FCA General Counsel Kim Driggers provided testimony and represented the only chiropractic group offering support for the measure, while two members of the Florida Chiropractic Society (FCS) testified vehemently in opposition to the dry needling provisions, stating dry needling was not in the DC scope of practice. Dr. Amanda Sellers from Longwood, a Palmer-Florida graduate who passed all parts of the NBCE exam, was forced to withdraw her application for licensure because of this foreign bachelor degree glitch, also provided compelling testimony in support of the provisions addressing the matriculation difficulties. Dr. Sellers must work as a CCPA with the hopes of this bill’s passage, or else she will be forced to obtain a new bachelor’s degree before she can practice chiropractic.  Following a round of questioning, the committee approved the measure by a 9-1 vote sending it forward to its last committee of reference, the Senate Rules Committee.

Tuesday also saw committee action over in the House on a second FCA priority proposal, HB 731 by Rep. Botana (R-Bonita Springs), aimed at providing a first step in bringing attention and transparency to the auto insurer’s scheme of targeting DCs seeking a “claw-back” of paid PIP claims under the threat of a federal lawsuit alleging fraud. Again, the FCA was the only chiropractic group testifying in favor of the bill before the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee. Rising in opposition was the head of the Personal Insurance Federation of Florida, a pro-insurance industry group funded by the state’s largest carriers. Following a round of questioning the subcommittee voted in favor of the bill by a vote of 15-1 sending it forward to the House State Administration & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee.

This week also saw the House and Senate debate on the floor and ultimately passed out their respective state government budget plans for FY 2024-25. They are now in a posture to begin discussions to resolve the differences between the two plans, meeting in a usually exhaustive series of joint Senate-House conference committees to reach a consensus on a single plan to take back to their respective floors for a final vote before adjourning. Much of the Legislature’s work during their second half will center on these budget negotiations.

Here’s a look at some of the other issues that your FCA Lobby Team continues to follow that saw action — or inaction — during this fifth week of the Legislature’s nine-week session.

Health Care / Interstate Licensure – This 300+ page bill applicable to your practice creates a new Interstate licensure statute (456.0145) applicable to all physician healthcare professionals wherein the Department of Health is required to issue an out-of-state applicant whose scope of practice is “similar” as defined by the Board, within seven days, if the applicant practiced two years, has no discipline in the prior five years, along with some other minor requirements.  The bill defines “scope of practice” as, “the full spectrum of functions, procedures, actions, and services that a health care practitioner is deemed competent and authorized to perform under a license issued in this state. The bill passed the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee on Feb. 6th and next heads to the Health and Human Services Committee. (HB 1549 by Grant)

Medical Specialty Designations – Efforts again this year to more closely regulate the titles physicians may hold out to the public in advertising and in any specialty designations they have earned were on the table again this week. On Thursday the Senate Rules Committee voted unanimously to advance Sen. Gayle Harrell’s bill addressing the subject, making it now available for consideration on the floor by the full Senate. The similar House bill sponsored by Rep. Ralph Massullo (R-Beverly Hills) awaits consideration in its final referenced committee before it can head to the floor. Though not identical, both bills protect DC’s titles and specialty designations and we thank both sponsors for working with the FCA to address our concerns. (SB 1112 by Harrell, HB 1295 by Massullo)

No-fault/PIP Auto Insurance Repeal, MBI Replacement Yet again, there was no further action on the latest attempt to repeal PIP and replace it with a mandatory bodily injury coverage requirement this week. These two bills are among the approximate 700 other bills that have yet to be heard in any of their referenced committees making it much more difficult to win final passage before the Legislature adjourns. (SB 464 by Grall & HB 653 by Alvarez)

Live Healthy Initiative – Healthcare Workforce & Innovation

Already passed by the full Senate and a top priority of Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) this pair of bills seek to promote a growing and innovative healthcare workforce to keep up with Florida’s growing population by removing regulatory barriers of licensure and allowing more access to the healthcare workforce.

Both bills have been sent to the House where they continue to wait on the calendar for consideration by the lower chamber. (SB 7016 & SB 7018 by Senate Health Policy)