2021 Legislative Session Wrap-Up

Christopher L. Nuland, Esq.
Lobbyist and Counsel

In what was undoubtedly the most challenging Session ever for both legislators and lobbyists, whose interactions were minimized by Covid protocols, we did emerge with several notable victories and some “near-misses” that we will engage in next year.

One of our biggest victories was the passage of a Covid Liability Relief Bill, which was signed into law by Governor Desantis. This legislation provides liability protection to physicians who acted in good faith to protect their staff and patients from Covid during the Pandemic and rewards those practitioners who tried to do the right thing.

The FGS also was successful on its own parochial issues. We passed SB 1124, recognizing March as Colorectal Awareness Month, and we took the lead among physician groups in advocating for further regulation of Pharmacy Benefit Managers.

As always, Scope of Practice issues dominated the discussion. Fortunately, APRN efforts at expanding their scope of practice to include specialty care were thwarted, as were attempts by Optometrists to perform invasive procedures. Likewise, Physician Assistants were thwarted in their attempt to obtain autonomous primary care, although their supervision ratios were reduced to 10 PAs per physician IF the physician approves; it should be noted that the limits on the number of locations at which a physician may supervise physician assistants remains unchanged.

Another victory to emerge in the final week is the Opioid Informational Pamphlet. Many of our members have been frustrated by the need to provide patients with a paper pamphlet when prescribing opioids of any kind; under the new law, this information may be provided electronically, thereby eliminating one more administrative task for the physician.

Another FGS victory was on the notorious “Pelvic Examination” law passed in 2020. Under the new law, which is on its way to Governor DeSantis, the definition of “pelvic examinations” has been limited to an internal physical examination of a female’s sexual organs and should eliminate the need for an additional consent form for many physicians. The result for Gastroenterologists will be the elimination of this onerous consent form in most cases. In addition, we successfully passed SB 1124, naming March as Colorectal Awareness month.

Unfortunately, not all of our efforts were successful. Our initiative to protect titles historically reserved for physicians passed the House, passed two of its necessary three committees in the Senate, but was unable to clear its final committee. We will redouble our efforts next Session on this important issue. Likewise, our attempts to further regulate the conduct of Pharmacy Benefit Managers feel just short, as our bill passed the House but was not taken up by the full Senate.

Thank you all for your patience and support during this most unusual and challenging time. As always, it is a pleasure and honor to serve.

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