Florida Senate - 2023 SB 1580 By Senator Trumbull 2-00821C-23 20231580__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to protections of medical conscience; 3 creating s. 381.00321, F.S.; defining terms; providing 4 that health care providers and health care payors have 5 the right to opt out of participation in or payment 6 for certain health care services on the basis of 7 conscience-based objections; providing requirements 8 for a health care provider’s notice and documentation 9 of such objection; providing construction; prohibiting 10 health care payors from declining to cover any health 11 care service they are obligated to cover during the 12 plan year; prohibiting persons, governmental entities, 13 business entities, and educational institutions from 14 discriminating against health care providers and 15 health care payors that exercise such right; providing 16 whistle-blower protections for health care providers 17 and health care payors that take certain actions or 18 disclose certain information relating to the reporting 19 of certain violations; providing construction; 20 creating s. 456.61, F.S.; prohibiting boards, or the 21 Department of Health if there is no board, from taking 22 disciplinary action against or denying a license to an 23 individual based solely on specified conduct; 24 providing construction; providing severability; 25 providing an effective date. 26 27 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 28 29 Section 1. Section 381.00321, Florida Statutes, is created 30 to read: 31 381.00321 Rights of conscience of health care providers and 32 health care payors.— 33 (1) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term: 34 (a) “Adverse action” means the discharge, transfer, 35 demotion, discipline, suspension, exclusion, revocation of 36 privileges, withholding of bonuses, or reduction in salary or 37 benefits; any action that may negatively impact the advancement 38 or graduation of a student, including, but not limited to, the 39 withholding of scholarship funds; or any other negative action 40 taken against a health care provider. 41 (b) “Agency” means the Agency for Health Care 42 Administration. 43 (c) “Business entity” has the same meaning as provided in 44 s. 606.03. The term also includes a charitable organization as 45 defined in s. 496.404 and a corporation not for profit as 46 defined in s. 617.01401. 47 (d) “Conscience-based objection” means an objection based 48 on a sincerely held religious, moral, or ethical belief. 49 Conscience with respect to entities is determined by reference 50 to the entities’ governing documents; any published ethical, 51 moral, or religious guidelines or directives; mission 52 statements; constitutions; articles of incorporation; bylaws; 53 policies; or regulations. 54 (e) “Department” means the Department of Health. 55 (f) “Educational institution” means a public or private 56 school, college, or university. 57 (g) “Governmental entity” means the state or any political 58 subdivision thereof, including the executive, legislative, and 59 judicial branches of government; the independent establishments 60 of the state, counties, municipalities, districts, authorities, 61 boards, or commissions; and any agencies that are subject to 62 chapter 286, including, but not limited to, the department and 63 any boards under the jurisdiction of the department. 64 (h) “Health care payor” means a health insurer, an 65 employer, a health care sharing organization, a health plan, a 66 health maintenance organization, a management services 67 organization, or any other entity that pays for, or arranges for 68 the payment of, any health care service, whether such payment is 69 in whole or in part. 70 (i) “Health care provider” means: 71 1. Any person or entity licensed under chapter 394; chapter 72 400; chapter 401; chapter 457; chapter 458; chapter 459; chapter 73 460; chapter 461; chapter 462; chapter 463; chapter 464; chapter 74 465; chapter 466; chapter 467; part I, part II, part III, part 75 IV, part V, part X, part XIII, or part XIV of chapter 468; 76 chapter 478; chapter 480; chapter 483; chapter 484; chapter 486; 77 chapter 490; or chapter 491; or 78 2. Any provider as defined in s. 408.803, a continuing care 79 facility licensed under chapter 651, or a pharmacy permitted 80 under chapter 465. 81 82 This term includes any student enrolled in an educational 83 institution who is seeking to become a health care provider. 84 (j) “Health care service” means medical research or medical 85 procedures, medical care, or medical services provided to any 86 patient at any time over the entire course of treatment, 87 including, but not limited to, testing; diagnosis; referral; 88 dispensing or administering any drug, medication, or device; 89 psychological therapy or counseling; research; prognosis; 90 therapy; recordmaking procedures; notes related to treatment; 91 set up or performance of a surgery or procedure; or any other 92 care or services performed or provided by any health care 93 provider. 94 (k) “Participate” or “participation” means to pay for or 95 take part in any way in providing or facilitating any health 96 care service or any part of such service. 97 (2) RIGHTS OF CONSCIENCE.— 98 (a) A health care provider or health care payor has the 99 right to opt out of participation in or payment for any health 100 care service on the basis of a conscience-based objection. A 101 health care provider must, at the time of the conscience-based 102 objection or as soon as practicable thereafter, provide written 103 notice of his or her conscience-based objection to the health 104 care provider’s supervisor or employer, if applicable, or 105 document his or her conscience-based objection to a particular 106 health care service in the patient’s medical file. A health care 107 provider who is a student must provide written notice of his or 108 her conscience-based objection to the educational institution at 109 the time the conscience-based objection is made or as soon as 110 practicable thereafter. 111 (b) The exercise of the right of medical conscience is 112 limited to conscience-based objections to a specific health care 113 service. This section may not be construed to waive or modify 114 any duty a health care provider or health care payor may have to 115 provide or pay for other health care services that do not 116 violate the rights of conscience or any duty to provide any 117 informed consent required by law. Additionally, a health care 118 payor may not decline to pay for a health care service it is 119 contractually obligated to cover during the plan year. 120 (c) A person, a governmental entity, a business entity, or 121 an educational institution may not discriminate against any 122 health care provider or health care payor because the health 123 care provider or health care payor declined to participate in or 124 pay for a health care service on the basis of a conscience-based 125 objection. 126 (3) SPEECH AND WHISTLE-BLOWER PROTECTIONS.— 127 (a) A health care provider or health care payor may not be 128 discriminated against or suffer any adverse action in any manner 129 with respect to: 130 1. Providing or causing to be provided, or intending to 131 provide or cause to be provided, information relating to any 132 violation of or any act or omission the health care provider or 133 health care payor reasonably believes to be a violation of any 134 provision of this act to his or her employer, the Attorney 135 General, the department, any other state agency charged with 136 protecting health care rights of conscience, the United States 137 Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of Civil 138 Rights, or any other federal agency charged with protecting 139 health care rights of conscience; 140 2. Testifying or intending to testify in a proceeding 141 concerning such violation; or 142 3. Assisting or participating in or intending to assist or 143 participate in such a proceeding. 144 (b) Unless the disclosure is specifically prohibited by 145 law, a health care provider or health care payor may not be 146 discriminated against in any manner for disclosing information 147 that the health care provider or health care payor reasonably 148 believes constitutes: 149 1. A violation of any law, rule, or regulation; 150 2. A violation of any ethical guidelines for the provision 151 of any medical procedure or service; or 152 3. A practice or method of treatment that may put patient 153 health at risk or present a substantial and specific danger to 154 public health or safety. 155 (4) REQUIREMENT TO PROVIDE EMERGENCY MEDICAL TREATMENT. 156 This section may not be construed to override any requirement to 157 provide emergency medical treatment in accordance with federal 158 or state law. 159 Section 2. Section 456.61, Florida Statutes, is created to 160 read: 161 456.61 Use of free speech by a health care practitioner; 162 prohibition.—A board, or the department if there is no board, 163 may not take disciplinary action against a health care 164 practitioner’s license or deny a license to an individual solely 165 because the individual has spoken or written publicly about a 166 health care service, including, but not limited to, speech 167 through the use of a social media platform as defined in s. 168 501.2041, provided that the individual is not using such speech 169 or written communication to provide medical advice or treatment 170 to a specific patient or patients, and provided that such speech 171 or written communication does not separately violate any other 172 applicable law or rule. 173 Section 3. If any provision of this act or its application 174 to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity 175 does not affect other provisions or applications of the act 176 which can be given effect without the invalid provision or 177 application, and to this end the provisions of this act are 178 severable. 179 Section 4. This act shall take effect July 1, 2023.