ASSIGNMENT OF BENEFITS Sponsored by Senate Banking and Insurance Chair Doug Broxson (R-Gulf Breeze) and Representative Danny Perez (R-Miami), this bill would limit attorneys’ fees in cases involving the insurance practice known as assignment of benefits. Insurers have long contended that abuses and litigation have driven up premiums.
ELECTIONS A priority of Secretary of State Laurel Lee, this comprehensive bill cleaned up a lot of administrative inconsistencies amongst the supervisors of elections. Its purpose is to provide greater integrity to Florida’s often maligned voting problems. Making substantive changes to the Florida Election Code, the bill provides ballot uniformity throughout the state; moves the primary election back by one week allowing more time to receive overseas ballots; changes ballot request and mail-out dates; increases the distance for campaigning outside precincts; allows voters to photograph his/her ballot in a polling place; creates and extends a provisional ballot signature cure process; assists voters with disabilities; revises canvassing processes and ballot signature gathering, among many other technicalities. The felon-rights bill (Amendment 4) was added to this bill in the last days of session to ensure its passage. The bill was signed into law by the Governor.
FLORIDA CONSTITUTION An amendment to further restrict petition signature gatherers working on behalf of constitutional amendment initiatives was added to a tax-cut bill in the last hours of the session. The amendment included the registration of paid signature gatherers; requires them to be paid by the hour rather than for each petition; specifies that the ballot of court-approved amendments must contain the petition sponsor’s name, the percentage of contributions collected in-state, and a notice in bold type if the measure would negatively impact the state’s budget, among other items. Opponents saw these measures as an attempt to squash citizen initiatives.
MEDICAID Bills to authorize non-emergency transportation services to Medicaid recipients by transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft passed both chambers.
HOSPITALS Overhauling healthcare regulations was a priority of Speaker Oliva, which likely led to the impetus to eliminate the certificate of need process for new hospitals and services. It does not apply to nursing homes or hospice.
TELEHEALTH This legislation authorizes Florida licensed health care professionals to use telehealth, the treatment of patients using electronic communications. Out-of-state health care professionals must register with the Department of Health or the applicable board, meet certain eligibility requirements, and pay a fee. The goal of telehealth is to improve access to care for Floridians and reduce overall healthcare expenses.