Week 1 Report-January 15, 2016
Following is a summary of the priority issues impacting BioFlorida. This update accompanies the detailed BioFlorida Legislative Tracking Reportthat includes over 80 bills impacting the life sciences industry.
Legislators began filing their priority bills for 2016 in August, and the filing deadline for those bills was the first day of the legislative session, January 12. The following summarizes the priority issues impacting BioFlorida to date. Throughout the next 60 days we will continue to keep you updated on these important issues.
Policy IssuesTransparency Initiative-Hospital Setting
Press Conference Held This Week & Senate Bill Gets Hearing Next Week
"Transparency" is a buzzword in Florida government. Thus far, transparency initiatives have focused on hospital costs. BioFlorida is closely monitoring for any expansion of these discussions. The life sciences industry has a unique story to tell as we develop life-saving treatments. On January 11th, sponsors Senator Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island) and Rep. Chris Sprowls (R-Palm Harbor) held a press conference to discussSB 1496andHB 1175,which are aimed at increasing transparency in a hospital setting. The legislation requires licensed health care facilities and health professionals to provide valid and understandable information to consumers on prices and quality. The legislation relies on a model that identifies 70 common service bundles and nearly 20 specific conditions with the goal of helping make significant health care decisions. Searches in the database are expected to yield price averages and price ranges that can then be broken into distinct components, such as physician services, tests, procedures, and therapies or rehabilitation.
Governor Scott expressed disappointment in the legislation because it did not contain any price gouging penalties. The Governor's Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding released its own recommendations regarding health care transparency in November. The Governor's proposal would cap what hospitals could charge patients and hospitals that exceeded the price caps could have been prosecuted by the Florida's Attorney General. The price caps are not included in the House or Senate bill and the legislation does not give the Attorney General power to prosecute hospitals. Additionally, the Governor's proposal requested $5 million for the development and implementation of an all claims payer database (APCD). The House and Senate legislation specifically prohibits the development of an APCD without legislative approval. SB 1496 will be heard in the Health Policy Committee on January 19th.
Senate Bill Heard Next Week
HB 963by Rep. Shawn Harrison called the "Florida Patient Protection Act" require Medicaid managed care plans, insurers or HMOs to allow a prescribing provider to request an override of a restriction on the use of a medication imposed through step-therapy or fail-first protocols. The legislation streamlines the step therapy and fails first protocols to ensure that physicians have a clear pathway to navigate a health plan's step therapy protocols. In addition, the legislation prohibits insurers from discriminating against vulnerable populations and lays out clear continuity of care guidelines.
SB 1084by Senator Don Gaetz (R-Destin) creates the "Right Medicine, Right Time Act" which requires a managed care plan that establishes a prescribed drug formulary or preferred drug list. If a managed care plan restricts the use of prescribed drugs through a fail-first protocol, it must establish a clear and convenient process that a prescribing physician may use to request an override of the restriction from the managed care plan. The legislation also prohibits an HMO from requiring that a health care provider use a clinical decision support system or a laboratory benefits management program in certain circumstances. SB 1084 is slated to be heard in the Banking and Insurance Committee on January 19th.
Medical Marijuana / Right to Try Act
SB 460 Clears Second Committee
HB 307by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fort Walton Beach) andSB 460by Senator Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island) piggybacks on a law passed last session that allows terminally ill patients to gain access to experimental drugs that have not been approved for general use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. That law, called the "Right to Try Act," is limited to patients who have terminal conditions and requires that they get approvals from two physicians. These same conditions would apply and the legislation would not allow patients to receive medical marijuana that can be smoked. Unlike the law passed in 2014, this legislation would not be limited to non-euphoric medical marijuana, but it would be under the same regulatory framework contained in the 2014 law. On November 17th, HB 307 passed the Criminal Justice Subcommittee by a vote of 9 to 4. On December 3rd, SB 460 passed its second committee hearing in the Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice by a vote of 5 to 0.
SB 852by Senator Jeff Brandes (R-Tampa) repeals the current provisions relating to the compassionate use of low-THC cannabis and instead creates the "Florida Medical Marijuana Act" which authorizes a registered patient or a designated caregiver to purchase, acquire and possess up to the allowed amount of medical marijuana for a patient's medical use.
HB 1183by Rep. John Wood (R-Winter Haven) allows registered patients and their designated caregivers to purchase, acquire and possess medical-grade marijuana subject to specified requirements, allows cultivation and processing licensees to acquire, cultivate, transport, and sell marijuana, and allows retail licensees to purchase, receive, possess, store, dispense and deliver marijuana. The bill does not require or restrict health insurance coverage for the purchase of medical-grade marijuana.
Economic Development Incentives
Tax Cut Package: Different Approaches by the House and Senate
This week the House indicated a willingness to allocate $1 billion to the total value of the tax package. This amount is in line with the Governor's budget recommendations; however, how the funds will be allocated will likely differ. The Governor has recommended the tax cut package options include a proposal to reduce the tax on commercial leases, the manufacturing tax credit continuation, the elimination of the corporate income tax, as well as lifting the sales tax for small businesses at the start of holiday shopping. The House's package will likely have some similar priorities and others will differ, Chairman Matt Gaetz (R-Fort Walton Beach and featured speaker at BioFlorida Day at the Capitol) said that his plan intends to include on the commercial-lease tax reduction (a 1% reduction in the tax which would save business owners $339 million over the next two years) and the continued elimination of the tax on manufacturing equipment. Chair Gaetz indicated that he is reviewing the Governor's proposal to eliminate the income taxes for manufacturing and retail businesses, approximately $770 million reduction in annual state revenue. Currently, the House plans to hear the tax cut package on the chamber floor during the fifth week of Session (starting February 8th). The Senate has a differing perspective on the tax cut package; President Gardiner said the chamber will consider a minimum of $250 million in tax cuts.
Many of BioFlorida's priorities revolve around the state budget. Governor Scott unveiled his 2016-2017 "Florida First" budget recommendations on November 23rd in Jacksonville. Big picture, the Governor's total recommendation in the Florida First budget for Fiscal Year 2016-2017 is $79.3 billion. The general revenue portion of this amount is $29.3 billion. The general revenue funds available for the FY 2016-2017 budget year increased $1.3 billion from last fiscal year, a five percent increase. The legislature can consider these recommendations as they allocate the budget during session.
Over the next several weeks, legislative appropriations committees will release their draft budget areas and we will monitor BioFlorida budget priorities such as investing in basic research, funding for the Institute of Commercialization of Public Research, funding for the economic development toolkit, etc.
In addition to these issues and budget items, BioFlorida is monitoring approximately 80 pieces of legislation on behalf of its members. More information will be forthcoming on budget-related issues as the budgeting process begins in the next week or two.