Week 3 Report-January 29, 2016
Below is a summary of the priority issues impacting BioFlorida.This update accompanies the detailed BioFlorida Legislative Tracking Reportthat includes more than80 bills impacting the life sciences industry.
With one-third of the legislative session complete, the dual tracks of policy and budgeting are ramping up. This week, legislative committees continued a breakneck pace of hearings on proposed legislation, while the various appropriations subcommittees released initial budget recommendations. The substantive committees are racing to hear legislation because the House and Senate Rules require committee action in order for a bill to proceed to the floor. Without a hearing, a bill dies.
In the House, policy subcommittees are scheduled to meet only one more time -
thisweek. Concurrently, Appropriations Subcommittee recommendations will move to each of the respective full Appropriations committees and then to the floor of each chamber. Ultimately, the House and Senate will conference on the budget to develop a single product.
Expect a frantic next few weeks as these dual tracks begin to converge and we move toward the final weeks of session.
Policy Issues Transparency Initiative - Hospital Setting
Senate Bill Clears Another Committee Hurdle This Week
SB 1496 by Senator Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island) and HB 1175 by Rep. Chris Sprowls (R-Palm Harbor) are aimed at increasing transparency about health carecosts. The legislation requires licensedhealth carefacilities 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. The House and Senate legislation specifically prohibits the development of an All Payer Claims Database (APCD) without legislative approval. On January 28th, SB 1496 passed the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services by a vote of 6 to 2. On January 20th, HB 1175 unanimously passed the House Select Committee on Affordable Healthcare Access and has two committee references remaining.
Patient Protection/Right Medicine Right Time
Senate Bill Scheduled for Second Hearing Next Week
HB 963 by Rep. Shawn Harrison (R-Tampa) called the "Florida Patient Protection Act" requires 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. No committee hearings have been held on the bill.
SB 1084 by Senator Don Gaetz (R-Destin) creates the "Right Medicine, Right Time Act", which requires Medicaid managed care plans, HMOs, and insurers that restrict medications by a step-therapy or fail-first protocol to have a clear and convenient process to request an override of the protocol. The bill requires these entities to grant an override of the protocol within 24 hours, under certain conditions. The bill 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. On February 1st, the bill is scheduled to be heard in the Health Policy Committee.
Study Bill Passes Committee This Week
HB 1353 by Rep. Mia Jones (D-Jacksonville) and SB 1686 by Senator Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach) create the Telehealth Task Force within AHCA and require the task force to submit a report to Governor and Legislature. The bills require the task force to compile and analyze certain data and to conduct comparative analysis of the health insurance coverage available for telehealth services and for in-person treatment. On January 26th, the Health Policy Committee unanimously passed SB 1686 by a vote of 9 to 0. The House companion measure has not been heard.
On January 20th, the House Select Committee on Affordable Healthcare Access also considered and passed its own telehealth proposal, HB 7087. The bill creates s. 456.47, F.S., relating to the use of telehealth to provide health care services, which authorizes Florida licensed health care professionals to use telehealth to deliver health care services within their respective scopes of practice. The bill also authorizes out-of-state health care professionals to use telehealth to deliver health care services to Florida patients if they register with the Department of Health (DOH), meet certain eligibility requirements, and pay a fee. Under the bill, a registered telehealth provider may use telehealth, within the relevant scope of practice to provide health care services to Florida patients, but is prohibited from opening an office in Florida and from providing in-person health care services to patients located in Florida. The bill allows health care providers who are authorized to prescribe a controlled substance to use telehealth to do so except for chronic nonmalignant pain.
Medical Marijuana / Right to Try Act
Senate Bill Postponed This Week
HB 307 by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fort Walton Beach) and SB 460 by 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 January 20th, SB 460 was scheduled to be heard in the Fiscal Policy Committee, but was postponed. There was no movement on the House companion bill this week.
The Senate and House subcommittee chairs published their first round of budget recommendations this week. The two chambers will continue to work independently as they individually craft allocations toward building the $79 billion budget. These budgets will be heard on their respective floors during week 5 (approximately Feb. 10-11), once passed, the two chambers will move to conference. While we are still a long way from having a budget finalized, all indications are that the process is moving along in a timely manner and the budget will be completed on time.
Economic Development Incentives
As the budget process moves forward, the tax incentive packages are a top issue for both the House and Senate. Governor Scott has recommended a tax incentive package valued at $1 billion which would include various incentives and credits, including 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. This week, the House released a draft plan to meet the Governor's $1 billion package. Conversely, the Senate has a differing perspective on the tax cut package; President Gardiner stated the chamber will consider a minimum of $250 million in tax cuts. Both chambers will continue to work independently on their respective tax packages. Following the passage of each chambers' budgets, a budget conference will convene, the chambers will negotiate to a final tax incentive package product.
Research and Development Tax Credit
On Wednesday, Chair Matt Gaetz presented his draft tax incentive package to the Finance and Tax Committee. He highlighted the 2015 research and development tax credit historic level of funding and assured that his goal is to keep the research tax as low as possible. He proposes adding $9 million more to this tax incentive to continue to promote Florida as a destination for companies to perform research and commercialize. Chair Gaetz specifically highlighted BioFlorida, to watch copy the following URL and go to1:08:30.
Manufacturing Tax Credit
The Senate Finance and Tax Committee unanimously passed SB 98 by Senator Hukill (R-Port Orange) which extends the current manufacturing equipment tax exemption. This bill continues to have bipartisan support and language will likely appear in the tax package. The Revenue Estimating Conference has determined that this tax exemption will reduce General Revenue receipts by $62.8 million. This bill is now headed to its third and final committee hearing. The House has included the manufacturing tax credit in Chair Gaetz's tax cut package proposal. Those draft materials can be viewed starting on page 48.
Economic Development Package
The Senate Commerce and Tourism committee passed SB 1646, the Economic Development package by Senator Latvala. This bill is the omnibus vehicle for economic development and includes language clarifying "average private sector wage" in several programs including the Research and Development Tax Credit Program, the Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund Program, the Quick Action Closing Fund and the Innovation Incentive Fund. The clarified term is defined to mean "the statewide average wage in the private sector or the average of all private sector wages in the county or standard metropolitan area in which the project is located."
Fund Basic Research
SB 941 by Representative Gonzalez passed the Health Quality Subcommittee; this bill is the Department of Health's 2016 legislative package. The subcommittee adopted an amendment that has technical changes in reporting for the research funds from the James and Esther King Biomedical Research Program, the Ed and Ethel Moore Alzheimer's Disease Research Program, and the Bankhead/Coley Cancer Research Program. These updates were due to an auditor general report. The amendments include carry forward language for the unexpended balance of funds.