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House health care panel OKs bills placing mandates on hospitals, insurers, health plans

House health care panel OKs bills placing mandates on hospitals, insurers, health plans

A House health care panel passed four bills that collectively put mandates on hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, insurers and managed care plans.

The House Select Committee on Health Innovation voted unanimously to pass HB 63, which requires Florida hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers to go surgical smoke-free beginning Jan. 1, 2025. The legislation requires hospitals to implement and adopt policies that require the use of a smoke evacuation system during any surgical procedure that is likely to generate surgical smoke. The smoke evacuation systems must effectively capture, filter and eliminate surgical smoke at the site of origin before the smoke makes contact with the eyes or respiratory tract of people in the room.

A staff analysis pegs the costs of the regulation at $10,000 a year per surgical suite.

Eleven states have adopted legislation to require the use of surgical smoke evacuation systems in certain health care facilities according to the analysis. Of those 11 states, eight require the smoke evacuation systems be used in hospitals and surgical centers and the other three require they be used in all facilities where surgical smoke is generated.

Hospitals and ASCs in Florida must comply with the 2021 National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 101 Life Safety Code, which does not require the use of surgical smoke evacuation systems. The 2021 code is enforceable until 2027 when the State Fire Marshall adopts the 2024 version of the National Fire Protection Association 101 Life Safety Code.

The Senate Health Policy Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved the Senate companion measure, SB 410.

The House select committee anel also gave the nod to HB 241, a bill that requires commercial insurance policies and the state group health insurance program to cover annual skin cancer screenings conducted by a dermatologist without payment towards a deductible or co-insurance, copayment, or any other cost-sharing.

It is not clear how much the mandate will increase costs and, perhaps more importantly, who pays the costs.

Most commercial health insurance plans (non-employer and small group employer plans) must offer a core package of health care services known as essential health benefits (EHBs). The skin cancer mandate is not included in one of the 10 categories or benefits people are entitled to under the federal health care law commonly referred to as Obamacare.

It also isn’t covered in the EHBs Florida adopted more than a decade ago and has not since modified.

But HB 241 would require that skin cancer screening be covered and there is a provision in the federal health care law that puts the financial onus of additional mandates entirely on the state. Those costs could range between $9.3 million to $16 million annually, according to the Office of Insurance Regulation.

However, the Biden administration in November issued a proposed rule that would codify any new additional benefits included in a state’s EHBs and therefore not require the state to absorb those costs.

The committee also passed HB 659, which creates requirements for a standardized identification card for insureds that identifies whether or not the plan is subject to state regulation and provides the insured with quick access information to the consumer services website of the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Consumer Services website.

The bill also prohibits health plans from refusing to participate in the Statewide Provider and Health Plan Claim Dispute Resolution Program. The state contracts with Maximus to administer the program, which assists contracted and non-contracted providers and managed care organizations with resolving claim disputes.

The committee also passed HB 877, which, as amended, requires hospitals with electronic health records to make admission, transfer and discharge data available to the Florida Health Information Exchange service to support public health data registries and patient care coordination. It also requires hospitals to make patient electronic health records available through an established national health information exchange.

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