Direct primary care teed up for final approval

By News Service of Florida

The Florida Legislature is poised to pass a bill that would create the “statutory footing” for direct primary-care agreements among physicians, patients and employers.

The Senate on Wednesday took up the House version of the bill (HB 37) and positioned it for a vote as soon as Thursday.

Under direct primary-care agreements, patients pay monthly fees to doctors or other providers for defined primary-care services.

After paying the fees, patients can utilize all services under the agreements at no extra charge.

The bill, sponsored in the Senate by Thonotosassa Republican Tom Lee, would amend the state insurance code to make clear that direct primary-care agreements do not violate insurance regulations.

Primary care providers are defined as physicians, osteopathic physicians, chiropractors, nurses or primary-care group practices.

The bill also would require direct primary-care contracts to be in writing.

Lee said the bill would give freedom to physicians and their staff members from insurance companies and filing forms that can divert up to 35 percent of their time.

The bill has been a priority of House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, for four years.

The House passed the bill this session by a 97-10 vote.

The small-business group National Federation of Independent Business Florida also has championed the proposal for several years.

“Direct primary care takes out the friction costs between doctors and their patients,” NFIB Florida Executive Director Bill Herrle said in a text message to The News Service of Florida.

News Service of Florida