House health panel prepares hurricane proposals

By The News Service of Florida
NOAA-NASA GOES Project via Getty Images

The 400-mile-wide Hurricane Irma pummels Florida from the Keys and up the Atlantic coast with winds up to 130 mph.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Look for the House Health & Human Services Committee to roll out a bill Thursday on hurricane-related health care and social service issues.

Committee Chairman Rep. Travis Cummings, R-Orange Park, told The News Service of Florida that it is the first of two hurricane-related bills that will be unveiled in the next two weeks.

It will be carried by Rep. Ralph Massullo, a Lecanto Republican who is a physician.

Cummings said the proposal this week will contain some, but not all, of the recommendations made by the House Select Committee on Hurricane Response and Preparedness, which issued a report on Jan. 16.

The select committee was formed after Hurricane Irma caused massive damage in September.

Some of the recommendations in the report included giving greater flexibility to the Department of Health to allow providers from other states to assist in storm response and recovery, either in person or through telehealth; requiring facilities to share certain parts of emergency-management plans with residents or their representatives; and requiring emergency plans to specifically address how facilities will maintain staffing during evacuations.

The bill is not expected to address emergency backup power requirements for nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

That, Cummings told the News Service, will be addressed in the second committee bill, which will most likely be unveiled Feb. 22.

The annual legislative session is scheduled to end March 9.

News Service of Florida