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Telehealth moves forward in House, House members back pot for terminal patients

Wednesday, March 9, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: DCMS
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The News Service of Florida: 

A House panel Monday approved a pair of bills aimed at increasing the use of "telehealth" to remotely provide medical services and at offering greater transparency in health-care costs. The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee unanimously passed the measures (HB 7087 and HB 1175), both sponsored by Rep. Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor. The House and Senate during the past two years have failed to reach agreement on a bill about telehealth, which involves using technology for doctors and other providers to offer care to patients remotely. In part, the bill would allow out-of-state health-care providers to use telehealth for Florida patients if the providers register with the state Department of Health. Lawmakers also are considering transparency bills this year as Gov. Rick Scott has repeatedly criticized hospital costs. In part, the House bill would require contracting for a database that would allow patients to search for information about prices and quality of care. Both bills will have to go through the House Health & Human Services Committee before they can reach the House floor.

Continuing to consider how many nurseries should take part in the industry, a House panel Monday approved a bill that would allow patients with terminal illnesses to legally use medical marijuana. The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee voted 9-2 for the bill (HB 307) after making a change that reduced the number of nurseries known as "dispensing organizations," which would be able to cultivate, process and sell the substances. A 2014 law that allows non-euphoric types of cannabis included a limit of five dispensing organizations. The bill approved Monday would allow broader types of marijuana for patients with terminal illnesses and is an expansion of another law known as the "Right to Try Act," which allows patients to have access to experimental drugs that have not been approved for general use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Before Monday, the bill would have allowed 20 dispensing organizations. But bill sponsor Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, requested that the subcommittee reduce that number to the same five allowed under the 2014 low-THC law. He said the requested change stemmed from trying to eliminate additional costs. Rep. Katie Edwards, a Plantation Democrat who is sponsoring the bill with Gaetz, asked members of the panel to take a "patient-centered approach" and approve the measure. Subcommittee Chairman Matt Hudson, R-Naples, and Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, voted against the bill, with Harrell saying more research needs to be done about the safety and efficacy of the substances.