Week 5 Report-February 12, 2016
Below is a summary of the priority issues impacting BioFlorida.This update accompanies the detailed BioFlorida Legislative Tracking Report that includes more than80 bills impacting the life sciences industry.
Policy Issues Transparency Initiative - Hospital Setting
House Bill Passes Committee 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 care costs. 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. On February 8th, HB 1175 passed the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee by a vote of 9 to 0 and has one final committee remains to hear the bill. SB 1496 has one final committee to clear, the Appropriations Committee.
Patient Protection/Right Medicine Right Time
No Movement this Week
HB 963 by 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. 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 passed the Health Policy Committee by a vote of 9 to 0 and has one final committee remaining, the Appropriations Committee.
Comprehensive House Committee Bill and Senate Bill Pass Committees 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 February 11th, SB 1686 passed the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services by a vote of 8 to 0. The House companion measure has not been heard.
HB 7087 by the House Select Committee on Affordable Healthcare Access 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. On February 8th, HB 7087 passed the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee by a vote of 9 to 0 and has one final committee hearing left.
Medical Marijuana/Right to Try Act
House Bill Advances in Committee this Week
HB 307 by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fort Walton Beach) and SB 460 by Senator Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island) SB 460 amend the Right to Try Act to include cannabis that is sold and manufactured by an approved dispensing organization (DO) in the definition of "investigational drug, biological product, or device." Under the legislation, an eligible patient and the eligible patient's legal representative may purchase and possess cannabis for the patient's medical use and an approved DO and its owners, managers and employees may manufacture, possess, sell, deliver, distribute, dispense and lawfully dispose of cannabis so long as the requirements of the Right to Try Act are met. Such persons are exempt from criminal penalties under the bills. An eligible patient, and his or her legal representative, may only obtain the cannabis from a DO approved under statute. On February 8th, HB 307 passed the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee by a vote of 9 to 2. SB 460 is on the calendar of bills ready to be considered by the full Senate.
On February 9th, HB 1313 by Rep. Jason Brodeur (R-Sanford) was scheduled to be heard, but time ran out before the bill was taken up in the Health and Human Services Committee. The bill tweaks the state's low-THC marijuana law passed in 2014. The bill restricts the types of physicians who can order the non-euphoric marijuana authorized two years ago to doctors who are board-certified or who specialize in cancer or epilepsy treatment. Doctors would also be required to have treated patients for at least six months before they could order low-THC products for patients. Additionally, the bill prohibits doctors who work for dispensing organizations from ordering the low-THC treatment for patients, limits dispensing organizations to selling 30-day supplies, and prohibits retail establishments from selling anything other than physician-ordered low-THC products and paraphernalia. The bill also imposes stricter regulations on dispensing organizations which will grow, process and dispense low-THC marijuana products. The measure also gives the DOH the ability to perform surprise inspections and impose up to $10,000 fines. Implementation of the 2014 law has been delayed because of legal challenges to the DOH's proposed rules. Many of the bill's provisions are included in SB 460.
The House and Senate passed their budgets off the respective floors this week. Allocating nearly $80 billion, these individual budgets are an initial step toward negotiating a final spending plan. At any point, chamber leaders could move to conference and the negotiation process between the two houses will begin. More specifics on the budget, including a chart of the specific priorities BioFlorida is tracking, will be provided in the coming week.
Fund Basic Research
SB 941 by Representative Gonzalez passed the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee on February 2; this bill is the Department of Health's 2016 legislative package, which includes 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 and also include carry forward language for the unexpended balance of funds. The bill is headed to the Health and Human Services Committee next. The carry forward language for the Ed and Ethel Moore Alzheimer's Disease Research Program was also found in HB 5103 and companion bill, SB 2510, which were passed by the House and Senate this week, ordered enrolled, and HB 5103 is now headed to the Governor.
Economic Development and Tax Incentives
Differing Approaches in the House and Senate
The House passed the tax package off the floor this week. The bill includes a $991.7 million tax cut package, which includes many of the Governor's recommendations including a reduction in the tax on commercial leases and a permanent elimination of the sales tax on manufacturing equipment. The Senate has not passed a large tax package preferring to address the tax incentives individually, however, the Senate has included in their budget the Governor's recommendation for $250 million in economic incentives through the Creation of the Florida Enterprise Fund; the House only has included $80 million for Enterprise Florida. The two chambers will negotiate to a compromise position during the conference process. Below are a few of the tax incentives BioFlorida is following as they benefit our members.
Research and Development Tax Credit
The House has included the research and development corporate income tax credit in their tax package, HB 7099, by Representative Matt Gaetz (R-Fort Walton Beach) the language states that the 2017 total amount granted is $18 million, a $9 million increase over the recurring base credits. The Senate's version is in a standalone bill by Senator Latvala (R-Clearwater), SB 1646, which simply retains the base $9 million.
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 budget conference process. 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, HB 7099.
Tax on Commercial Leases
The House tax incentive package, HB 7099, reduces the state sales tax rate on rental of commercial real estate (also known as the business rent tax) from 6% to 5% in 2017, with an additional one percentage point reduction (to 4%) in 2018. The Senate also addresses the business rent tax in SB 116 by Senator Hukill; however, it is only a reduction of one percent. The Senate proposal will be discussed during the Office of Economic and Demographic Research's Revenue Estimating Conference on Friday, January 8th to determine a total fiscal impact.