7/1/2011 MIAMI – Keeping his promise to reform Medicaid and limit frivolous lawsuits, Governor Rick Scott visited Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami to highlight legislation that increases health care options and patient choice, improves quality of care, and protects taxpayers from skyrocketing Medicaid costs.

In addition to authorizing a managed care model for Florida’s Medicaid services, bills featured in a today’s signing ceremony provide legal protections from burdensome lawsuits to Jackson Memorial, Shands Teaching Hospitals and volunteer medical professionals.

“In light of the threat of ObamaCare’s rapid growth of Florida’s Medicaid population, we must ensure Floridians have the doctors they need to receive quality care, while also protecting taxpayers from out-of-control Medicaid costs,” Governor Scott said. “As we improve quality of care for those who rely on Florida’s health care safety net, Florida will be a national model for Medicaid reform and quality health care.”

Governor Scott discussed the importance of legislation that will be especially helpful to uninsured patients who pay for health care costs out-of-pocket. House Bill 935, Health Care Price Transparency, requires urgent care centers to make information about the cost of medical services more accessible to patients.

Urgent care centers are now required to prominently display the costs of their 50 most frequently provided medical services. Equipped with information about the costs of medical care, uninsured patients who pay for health care costs out-of-pocket will be able to choose the most affordable provider. Primary care providers are encouraged to display the same information, and those who choose to do so receive an exemption from the professional license renewal fee and continuing education requirements.

Joining Governor Scott for the bill signing ceremony were Rep. Carlos Lopez Cantera, Rep. Frank Artiles, Rep. Daphne Campbell, Jackson Memorial Hospital CEO Carlos Migoya, and Donna Shalala, president of the University of Miami.

Other bills Governor Scott and legislators highlighted today are as follows:

• House Bill 479, Medical Malpractice – The bill provides new guidelines regarding medical malpractice litigation in Florida, including additional protections for volunteer team physicians. In addition, medical professionals not licensed in Florida must receive an “expert witness certificate” before testifying in a medical negligence case. Medical malpractice insurance requirements allow more flexibility of coverage for physicians and dentists.

• House Bills 7107 and 7109, Medicaid Managed Care – These bills restructure the Medicaid program to a managed care model. Once a waiver from the federal government is granted, Medicaid will consist of two managed care programs, one for primary and acute care, and another for home and community-based care. The plan ensures patient choice of customized-benefit packages while also helping rein in caseloads and costs.

• House Bill 1125, Florida Health Choices Program – To increase health insurance options for the uninsured, the centralized marketplace for health insurance products created by the 2008 Florida Legislature is expanded to increase employer and vendor participation. By streamlining the approval process of health benefit plans, services, and other contracts, the marketplace will be more effective and user-friendly.

• SB 1676 and HB 395, Sovereign Immunity – The bills grant certain lawsuit protections to both Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami and Shands Teaching Hospitals and its affiliates in Gainesville and Jacksonville. In Florida, sovereign immunity limits lawsuits against the government or it agents. The legislation protects taxpayers and helps public hospitals ensure sustained financial viability.

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