April 6, 2000

Tallahassee -- Focusing on enhancing health care quality, affordability and availability for all Floridians, Speaker-designate Tom Feeney (R-Oviedo), Representative Leslie Waters (R-Largo), Representative Durell Peaden (R-Crestview) and Representative Mike Fasano (R- New Port Richey) today introduced the Patient Protection Act of 2000.

Signaling his strong support, House Speaker John Thrasher (R-Orange Park) remarked that it is, "time we return to a patient-centered model for health care. This plan is a tremendous move in the right direction to restore responsibility and accountability to our state's medical delivery system"

Standing in the governor's large conference room, Speaker-designate Tom Feeney outlined the major components of a plan that will dramatically shift the health care focus back to the patient/doctor relationship, while guaranteeing protections for all Florida patients."Our proposal will guarantee consumer awareness of existing patient protections and rights, while taking new steps to ensure quality of care," said Feeney. "Who among us has not been frustrated by the mountain of paperwork required to file a claim or been apprehensive as to whether we are receiving the appropriate treatment or not? It is easy to feel like David battling Goliath if you have a grievance with your HMO. Too often some bureaucrat without any medical experience is making health care recommendations for a patient. That is wrong and irresponsible and this legislation returns the responsibility for medical advice and treatment to the doctor where it should have stayed all along."There are additional mechanisms in the bill to provide a safety net for individuals who are having difficulties with their HMOs. Physicians will now be required to post a notice of toll free telephone numbers people may call if they have a complaint. They will be provided assistance in resolving their grievance in a timely manner.Another sponsor of the bill, Rep. Durell Peaden, a doctor from Crestview, stated that "for the first time in Florida, your doctor will be able to continue to treat you in the hospital instead of forcing care by an unfamiliar provider upon an already sick patient." He further added that, "licensed doctors, not HMO administrators or bureaucrats, will make the final decisions regarding your care.""We also want to focus on preventing medical errors from occurring in the first place," said Rep. Mike Fasano. "Growing demands on hospitals and the increasing impersonal clinical relationship between patients and their caregivers have created a host of mishaps from amputating the wrong limb to surgical mistakes resulting in death. We need to hold hospitals and doctors accountable for what occurs on their watch."Rep. Leslie Waters concluded, "The health care system needs to remember that patients must come first."

Also in attendance were the various sponsors of legislation, including Reps. Rudy Bradley (R-St. Petersburg), Prank Parkas (R- St. Petersburg) and Alex Villalobos (R-Miami).