Florida’s 2019 legislative session officially ended on May 3rd with legislators passing 195 bills of the 1,861 that were filed.
Besides submitting a final budget to Governor Ron DeSantis, the legislature worked to pass a ban on “sanctuary cities,” several rollbacks of health care regulations, a controversial roads project in the heart of rural communities, and a narrow interpretation of Amendment 4.
This year, the legislators set aside $91.1 billion for spending on education, health care, transportation, corrections, safety-net programs and other expenses. The Florida health care budget for 2019-2020 will be $37.7 billion, an increase of about $600 million over the current year.
The Florida Legislature has also included funding in the 2019-20 budget to eliminate medical and dental deductibles for families who have been “full pay” in the Healthy Kids program for their school-age children. The Legislature has budgeted $1.1 million to absorb the costs, and the federal government would provide $5.8 million.
Other highlights from the health care budget include:
Funding the Medicaid program at $28.4 billion to serve 3.8 million beneficiaries
Funding the children health care program at $598 million to serve 275,707 children
Transferring about $9 million, or 3 percent, of $319 million in Medicaid dollars to the base rate
$48.7 million for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities to address its waitlist for services
$110.3 million for substance abuse and mental health initiatives
Restoring homeless funding to $3.2 million
Reduce funding for Medicaid retroactive eligibility by $104 million
Health Care Bills Passed and Failed
Besides settling on a budget, lawmakers also passed several bills that will have an impact on health care delivery and coverage. The Governor’s priority, allowing drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to be imported into Florida by Canada and other countries (HB 19), moved quickly and ultimately passed. The legislature also successfully passed the repeal of the certificate of need requirement for hospitals. The bill, HB 21, removes a requirement that general hospitals apply and obtain approval from the state to build or expand.
Unfortunately, the legislature failed to pass a bill authorizing dental therapists despite the state’s significant oral health needs. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 5.5 million Floridians live in 232 communities designated as “Dental Care Health Professional Shortage Areas” (HPSAs).