‘Certificate of need' repeal ready for vote in Florida House

Florida capitol building
Florida capitol building

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A bill that would eliminate the long-standing regulatory program known as certificate of need is teed up for passage in the Florida House.

A number of Democratic lawmakers Wednesday peppered bill sponsor Heather Fitzenhagen, R-Fort Myers, with questions before the House positioned the proposal (HB 21) for a vote Thursday.

A priority for House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, the bill would eliminate the so-called CON program for hospitals, nursing homes and hospices.

The bill also would eliminate requirements that hospitals provide certain amounts of Medicaid and charity care.

Rep. Loranne Ausley, D-Tallahassee, asked Fitzenhagen whether she could guarantee that the state’s large safety-net hospitals wouldn’t be adversely impacted by the elimination of the requirement that all hospitals treat Medicaid patients.

“I don’t believe so but there are no guarantees,” Fitzenhagen told Ausley.

The bill has sailed through the House with little opposition.

The proposal, though, is finding a more difficult road in the Senate, where the Health Policy Committee this week had to delay a vote on a CON bill (SB 1712) sponsored by committee Chairwoman Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart.

Harrell’s bill is different than the House counterpart in that it maintains the CON program for hospice and nursing homes.