House backs break for hospice doctors

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With little comment, the Florida House on Wednesday unanimously passed a bill that would exempt hospice doctors from being required to check a state database before prescribing controlled substances to patients.

In response to the state’s opioid crisis, the Legislature last year passed a law that requires physicians to check a database before prescribing controlled substances.

Also, it placed prescribing limits on opioids and required physicians who prescribe the substances to enter certain information into the database.

But hospice providers have argued that the database-check requirement causes unnecessary delays and suffering when physicians treat people who are dying.

The House bill (HB 375), sponsored by Rep. Cary Pigman, an Avon Park physician, also received unanimous approval as it cruised through committees.

A Senate version (SB 592), sponsored by Sen. Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula, has received unanimous approval in committees but has not been heard on the Senate floor.