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DeSantis vetoes bill intended to remove patient confusion over medical titles

A patient sits for an eye exam.
Damian Dovarganes
In this file photo made April 28, 2010, a free eye exam is performed on a patient at the Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinic inside the Los Angeles Sports Arena in Los Angeles.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has vetoed two bills, including a measure that would have added restrictions about titles used by medical professionals and required practitioners to wear name tags or display licenses when treating patients.

DeSantis did not detail his reasons in two veto letters sent to Secretary of State Cord Byrd.

The bill (SB 230) about medical titles and identification was sponsored by Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Chairwoman Gayle Harrell, a Stuart Republican who argued during the legislative session that it would provide “transparency” to patients.

Among other things, the bill could have led to practitioners facing discipline for not wearing name tags or not displaying licenses in their offices.

Practitioners also would have been required to verbally identify themselves by name and profession to new patients. Similar issues have been debated for several years in the Legislature, in part because of efforts to draw distinctions between optometrists and ophthalmologists.

Harrell said optometrists might have earned doctorate degrees to be called a doctor of optometry. But she said they are not physicians who have been to medical school and spent years in residency programs.

“It’s important that people understand the level of education of that individual who is treating them,” Harrell said in March. “There's a lot of confusion out there, you know, and we don't want advertising signs, or even name tags to misrepresent (that), or a patient to be misinformed as to who exactly is treating them.”

The other bill that DeSantis vetoed (HB 385) dealt with Florida’s involvement in the Professional Counselors Licensure Compact, which is a type of agreement that allows telehealth and in-person treatment across state lines.

The bill would have backed allowing states to collect fees for practicing under the compact. House sponsor Juan Porras, R-Miami, said the proposal was aimed at clearing up an issue after Florida joined the compact last year.

Three health-related bills signed

The governor also signed into law 12 other bills, including health care-related bills that develop actions to battle the opioid epidemic, prepare home health caregivers for medically fragile children, and define rules related to kratom sales.

The home health aides measure (CS/CS/CS/HB 391) allows a family caregiver for a medically fragile child to receive training state-approved training and to be reimbursed by Medicaid.

As part of CS/SB 704, the state will creates a Council on Opioid Abatement within the Department of Children and Families to coordinate state and local efforts to end the epidemic and support the victims. The council will review how settlement money from opioid litigation is spent.

The law also expands access to naloxone and other opioid antagonists. It allows pharmacists to prescribe as well as dispense these antagonists “within constraints” of the statute.

Finally, CS/HB 179 sets age limit to purchase and consume kratom at 21 years old.

Health News Florida producer Rick Mayer contributed to this report.

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