Florida Nurse Practitioner Network
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Senator accuses FMA of being a greedy organization that puts money over patients

Posted about 8 years ago by Regina Pommer

April 04, 2011  By: Christine Jordan Sexton

Sen. Mike Bennett on Monday lashed out at the Florida Medical Association, calling it a "greedy" group whose political agenda was about ensuring doctors salaries, not improving access to health care.

"In the state of Florida, we have an organization that is so greedy it would deny our constituents, your people at home, an opportunity to have excellent health care," he said.

The remarks came after Bennett unsuccessfully tried to amend a FMA priority bill on medical malpractice to include  a "scope of practice" expansion for optometrists and advanced registered nurse practitioners that the doctors group opposes. The bill is filed by Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, and is similar but not identical to HB 479, filed by Rep. Mike Horner, R-Kissimmee. The Senate measure, SB 1590, would among other things require expert witnesses used in medical malpractice cases to be licensed in the state of Florida.

The FMA generally opposes any scope of practice expansion. Bennett said by including the measure on a highly sought after bill, it was a "one time opportunity" it for the state of Florida to save $200 million annually by allowing health care practitioners broader authority under their licensing statutes. Bennett's amendment would have allowed optometrists and advanced nurse practitioners to prescribe drugs that they are not allowed to prescribe.

Sen. Don Gatez Gaetz, R-Destin, called a point of order saying the amendment broadened the medical malpractice bill to licensure and Medicaid requirements. Committee chairman Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, ruled that Gaetz's point was well taken, although he told Bennett that he agreed with the purpose of the amendment and reminded Bennett that his ruling could be challenged.

Bennett moved that the bill be temporarily passed so he could challenge Garcia's ruling, but Gaetz objected. Garcia then called a voice vote on whether action on the bill should be deferred. The committee voted to vote on the bill. It ultimately passed by a 9-3 vote.

In an e-mail to the Florida Tribune, FMA Executive Vice President Tim Stapleton said the "scope of practice" expansions for optometrists and registered nurse practitioners "would endanger patient safety and compromise quality of care."

Stapleton said Bennett's "choice of words" to describe the FMA "was very unfortunate."

Bennett said that what he was trying to accomplish with his amendment is allowable in other states, and people aren't dying in the streets as a result.

"The FMA, the doctors, are greedy," said Bennett. "They want to continue to be able to double bill, they want to be able to continue to restrict access to health care for greed."

Originally published in the Florida Current - exclusively distributed via Lobbytools - Florida's Premiere Legislative and Media Monitoring Service.


Elizabeth Field about 8 years ago

To Tim Stapleton, FMA Executive Vice President, just give up. I would really like to know how allowing ARNP's to prescribe scheduled drugs "would endanger patient safety and compromise quality of care?" That excuse is beyond lame, since multiple studies have proven that Nurse Practitioners give high quality and relevant care. And 48 other states allow midlevels to prescribe, and they don't seem to have problems with it. So if you insist on using that same old excuse, then give me specifics. Please, tell me how. It certainly can't be that NP's would create an environment for over prescribing narcotics, or enabling prescription narcotic junkies to get their prescriptions easily. It can't be, since you, the physicians of Florida, have already created that mess all by yourselves!! By allowing NP's to prescribe, it would only provide expanded care to the people of Florida who may only be seen by a Nurse Practitioner, as many physicians refuse to allow low income/medicaid/self paying patients into their offices.

Elizabeth Field, MSN, FNP-BC

Diana Corpstein about 8 years ago

I recently moved here from another state where I enjoyed autonomous practice was free to prescribe what I needed to care for my patients. The notion that I am somehow "unsafe" simply because I crossed a state line is ridiculous. I even have a DEA registration number and I am not allowed to use it. What I cant understand is that the state of Florida is one of the only states that doesnt allow ARNPs to prescribe narcotics, yet it is the national leader in narcotics overdoses (prescribed only by physicians) and routinely the media blasts the physician run "pill mills" advertised as pain clinics. Florida should follow the Consensus Model recommendations and get into the current century. Independent practice with full prescribing authority is a necessity and should be pursued despite the resistance by the AMA. My vote goes to Bennett who had the courage to tell the truth!!!!!

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