House starts moving again on ‘direct primary care'

By News Service of Florida
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A House health care panel on Tuesday approved a bill backing “direct primary care” contracts that would allow physicians to bill patients and collect payments in advance of providing care without having to obtain an insurance license.

The proposal (HB 37), sponsored by Rep. Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills, is being fast-tracked by House leaders.

The House Health & Human Services Committee was the sole stop for the measure, which is now available to go to the House floor after the 2018 session starts in January.

The bill would amend the insurance code to define direct primary-care contracts and allow physicians to enter the contracts with patients, patients' guardians and businesses.

The contracts typically would cover routine care and would cut out the role of insurers.

The bill defines direct primary care and would make clear that the contracts could be canceled by the parties with 30 days' notice.

Burgess told the committee that direct primary-care contracts would provide “another choice in health care for patients and providers.”

Committee member Ralph Massullo, a Lecanto Republican who is a physician, noted that specialists, such as obstetricians and dermatologists, would be authorized to enter into direct primary-care contracts under the bill and said he strongly supports the idea.

This is the fourth year the bill has been filed in the Legislature.

A Senate version, SB 80, sponsored by Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, is similar but not identical.

The Senate bill has already cleared two committees.

Rep. Lori Berman, a Lantana Democrat who serves on the House Health & Human Services Committee, said she supports the concept of direct primary care but said she had concerns that the House bill would not be heard by other committees.

News Service of Florida