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Lawmakers sign off on health care changes

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Legislature on Monday approved a far-reaching bill that would affect how health care is delivered. The bill (HB 843), which was passed unanimously by the House and Senate, would establish a student-loan repayment program for dentists willing to work in medically underserved areas and in public-health programs.

The bill also would allow patients to stay overnight at ambulatory surgical centers, a longstanding priority of House Republican leaders.

Under current law, patients must leave the centers on the same day in which they receive treatment. The bill also would limit HMOs and insurance companies from using “step therapy protocols” for prescription drugs in certain circumstances.

The bill was part of a series of high-profile health care measures that lawmakers passed Monday and will send to Gov Ron DeSantis.

The bill also would place requirements on hospitals to provide written information to patients about such issues as the facilities’ rates of hospital-acquired infections and 15-day readmission rates.

The bill also would require hospitals to notify each patient’s primary-care provider, if any, within 24 hours after the patient’s admission to -- and discharge from -- the hospital.

The bill also would direct the Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability to research and analyze the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact and the possibility of Florida joining the compact.