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Alan Hays to Bring Back Cost-Regulating Doctors' Drug Dispensing Bill

November 29, 2012 - 6:00pm

A bill to lower workers compensation costs for businesses, by limiting how much doctors can charge for medicine they dispense out of their offices, will return in 2013.

Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, the author of the bill, said Friday he will refile the bill that failed to reach the Senate floor last session.

Dispensing physicians have confirmed that they will challenge the bill again on behalf of their patients.

Hays noted that for one muscle relaxant, medical offices pay $8.33 to file a prescription but are able to seek more than $430 in reimbursement through the state workers compensation system.

We have to stop this overpractice, Hays said.

State economists estimated that the workers compensation bill could have saved businesses collectively $62 million next year, with the state governments impact from workers compensation claims dipping by $1 million. Because those predictions were never backed up with hard numbers, some legislators last session balked at the bill.

The bill was strongly opposed by Automated HealthCare Solutions, a Miramar-based company thatoffers software to self-dispensing physicians.

Among the bill's detracting factors was that Florida is a carrier-directed state. The state can order a workers' comp patient to see a specific doctor. The state can order a patient to see only a doctor who sends his patients to a pharmacy to get a prescription filled. But it does not. Doctors testified during the committee meetings that patient outcomes are infinitely better when doctors prescribe.

Doctors said that, theoretically, the state can always choose to send its workers' comp patients to doctors who don't dispense drugs, who send their patients to pharmacies to fill their prescriptions instead.

"This is why we don't need a cap," argued lobbyist Tom Panza, a Florida attorney for Automated Healthcare Solutions. "We have a failsafe. The state is already in charge of the whole show. If dispensing physicians are so greedy, why doesn't the state just skip right over them?"

The bill was halted from reaching the Senate floor last session by former Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island.

In protest, Hays cast the deciding vote that doomed the parent trigger for school choice, of which he had been an original sponsor.

Similar bills have been introduced the past three sessions. The prior efforts all failed either to get through the Legislature or beyond a governor's veto.

Former Gov. Charlie Crist in 2010 vetoed a measure that would have limited costs of physician-dispensed drugs to workers' compensation patients.
The bill was backed last year by the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Florida.

Reach Jim Turner at or at (772) 215-9889. Nancy Smith contributed to this story.

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