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Medically essential electric service eyed

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The House on Wednesday prepared to pass a bill that would require health care providers to inform patients about medically essential electric service programs.

The measure (HB 773) would place a mandate on physicians, physician assistants and advanced registered nurse practitioners. They would have to advise patients who are dependent on electricity to survive about the programs and to provide patients with a copy of the law.

There is not a Senate version of the bill, which is sponsored in the House by Rep. Randy Maggard, R-Dade City.

Under Florida law, investor-owned utilities -- Florida Power & Light Co., Duke Energy Florida, Tampa Electric Co., Gulf Power Co. and Florida Public Utilities Co. -- are required to offer medically essential service programs. The House bill would expand current law to require municipal electric utilities and rural electric cooperatives to offer customers access to medically essential service programs.

A final vote on the bill could come as early as Thursday.