Florida consumers will now have another layer of protection when they get a hospital bill under legislation signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott.

Scott signed 20 bills into law Thursday, including a bill (HB 221) meant to increase transparency at Florida hospitals. Among other things, the bill stops consumers from receiving bills from out-of-network providers for the cost of healthcare not covered by insurance, as long as it was an emergency situation.

The bill also calls on hospitals to post their prices and average payments online, and provides additional treatment options to people with Down syndrome.

“The way patients are charged for services at the hospital should mirror a free market system. We must ensure that prices and quality outcomes are aligned so Floridians receive the best care possible when they visit a health care facility,” said Scott in a statement Thursday. “I want to thank the Florida Legislature for their efforts to increase transparency at Florida hospitals and empower patients to fight against hospital price gouging. This legislation is an important first step as we continue to address the high costs hospitals pass on to patients and their families.

Scott also signed a host of education-related measures, including a wide-sweeping education bill (HB 7029). Among other things, that measure creates expands school choice options to public schools and tweaks transfer rules for high school athletes.

The athletics portion of the measure allows student athletes to be immediately eligible for sports when they enroll in or transfer to a school. It also calls on school boards to establish eligibility criteria, lays out penalties for school employees who are found guilty of recruiting and changes the threshold of proving eligibility to a “preponderance of evidence,” instead of by “clear and convincing evidence,” a tougher legal standard.

Scott also OK’d legislation aimed at creating greater transparency and accountability in the higher education system. That bill (HB 7109) holds the line on graduate student tuition, calls on colleges and universities to make textbooks more affordable; and gives students more clarity on college costs.

“Our goal is to make Florida the best place to get a great education, and this bill gives students the ability to make informed decisions when choosing classes. It also makes higher education transparency and accountability a priority,” said Scott in a statement. “We want every student to have the resources they need to get an affordable education in Florida, and I’m happy to sign the bill today.”

A full list of the bills signed Thursday, courtesy of the governor’s office, is below:

HB 153

 

The Healthy Food Financing Initiative – This bill directs the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to establish the Healthy Food Financing Initiative program.

 

HB 221

 

Health Care Services – This bill protects patients from paying unexpected bills for out-of-network services and provides additional treatment options for individuals with Down syndrome.

 

HB 287

 

The Principal Autonomy Pilot Program Initiative – This bill creates the Principal Autonomy Pilot Program Initiative to provide additional professional development training for school principals.
HB 423

 

Access to Health Care Services – This bill allows Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants to prescribe certain controlled substances.

 

HB 447

 

Local Government Environmental Financing – This bill refers to the Florida Keys Stewardship Act and provides funding for water resource projects and land acquisition in the Florida Keys.

 

HB 491

 

Water and Wastewater – This bill revises the current framework for governing water and wastewater utilities.

 

HB 585

 

Instruction for Homebound and Hospitalized Students – This bill streamlines the process for school districts to provide educational instruction to homebound and hospitalized students.

 

HB 821 Reimbursement of Assessments – This bill prohibits representatives who assist veterans in applying for benefits from charging the veteran an administrative fee.

 

HB 931

 

Operations of the Citizens Property Insurance Corporation – This bill revises various provisions relating to the Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.

 

HB 941

 

The Department of Health – This bills amends various practice acts related to health professions and occupations.

 

HB 977

 

Behavioral Health Workforce – This bill allows psychiatric Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners to prescribe certain controlled substances and expands eligibility for providers in a substance abuse program.

 

HB 981

 

Administrative Procedures – This bill clarifies the timeframe for agencies to evaluate the economic impact of administrative rules.

 

HB 1075

 

State Areas – This bill revises acquisition, management and surplus processes for state-owned lands and other state areas.

 

HB 1175

 

Transparency in Health Care – This bill requires hospitals to post their prices and average payments online.

 

HB 1305

 

Emergency Allergy Treatment in Schools – This bill provides schools with cost-saving options for acquiring epinephrine auto-injectors.
HB 7019

 

Education Access and Affordability – This bill promotes college affordability by providing tuition and fee transparency, textbook cost predictability, oversight of graduate school tuition, and accountability of Florida’s higher education system.

 

HB 7029

 

Education – This bill expands educational options for students and parents in prekindergarten, K-12, and higher education.

 

HB 7053

 

Early Childhood Development – This bill revises health and safety requirements for school readiness program providers.

 

HB 7061

 

Transportation – This bill makes various changes to the Department of Transportation and the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, including implementing “Chloe’s Law” which provides additional roadside safety measures.

 

HB 7087

 

Health Care – This bill creates the Telehealth Advisory Council within the Agency for Health Care Administration.

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