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Florida Senate Health Policy Committee Favorably Reports S.B. 1052 After Voting to Include POLST Amendment

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Via Center Director Marshall Kapp:

I am pleased to report that this morning the Florida Senate Health Policy Committee favorably reported S.B. 1052 (“Right to Try” bill), after voting to include the POLST amendment that I informed you about yesterday. In an effort to keep you all informed and to respond to the inevitable criticisms that have already started to pour in, permit me to give you both some background and some perspective on where we go from here.

In terms of background, Senator Jeff Brandes introduced S.B. 1052. There is a House counterpart. In S.B. 1052, there is a provision establishing a statewide clearinghouse relating to palliative care. Senator Brandes and his staff approached me for input regarding such a clearinghouse. I took that inquiry as an opportunity to inform the Senator and his staff about the POLST concept, which they enthusiastically embraced. The Senator had an amendment drafted by the Senate Bill Drafting Office incorporating POLST into S.B. 1052. That was the amendment that I shared with you yesterday and which the Senate Health Policy Committee favorably reported today. Today’s Committee meeting may be viewed at http://www.flsenate.gov/media/videoplayer?EventID=2443575804_2015031292. The part of the meeting relevant to S.B. 1052 begins at Minute 27.

For S.B. 1052, including the POLST provisions, to become law it would need now to be favorably reported by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services and by the Senate Committee on Fiscal Policy, and them passed by the full Senate. Additionally, the House counterpart bill would need to make it through the full House. Since there will be differences between the Senate and House versions (among other things, the House version does not contain provisions on POLST), the differing versions passed by the two chambers would need to be reconciled in conference, and then the reconciled version would need to be passed by both chambers. Finally, of course, the Governor needs to sign the legislation for it to become law.

Importantly, even if legislation is passed and signed into law, the Department of Health would then need to adopt specific language for the POLST form. The debate about specific details that seems to concern so many of the folks who have written to me already would properly take place at the level of trying to educate the DOH in its administrative form adoption process.

This is all happening quickly. I am trying to keep you all as well informed and involved as possible, given that we are working with several moving targets that are not within our control. There will be lots of opportunity for your input if the legislation, and then the administrative, processes progress. At the same time, after many years of laying the groundwork, we have been presented with the opportunity that most of you have been asking for (turning POLST into a reality in Florida) and it would be foolish in the extreme to squander this opportunity.

Marshall B. Kapp, J.D., M.P.H.