TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — On Tuesday, the Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee passed three bills designed to strengthen medical freedom and protect Floridians from medical-based discrimination.
The first bill introduced amongst the slew of medical freedom legislation was SB 1580, sponsored by Sen. Jay Trumbull (R-Bay etc.).
“This bill seeks to protect healthcare practitioners and payors from being forced to violate their ethical or religious beliefs and provides protections to healthcare practitioners from being penalized, reprimanded, or deprived of their licensing for exercising their freedom of speech,” Sen. Trumbull began.
Sen. Rosalind Osgood (D-Broward) pressed Sen. Burton on the bill, asking him to clarify what would qualify as a moral or ethical objection.
“Specifically as it relates to the physician or provider, a moral or ethical objection would be up to what the individual believes. As it relates to the payor or insurance company provider – if a company has their own private insurance company, such as Hobby Lobby, a Christian-based company – they’d be able to object to providing a service if that service goes against their moral or ethical beliefs,” Sen. Trumbull explained.
Representatives from The League of Women Voters of Tallahassee and Equality Florida spoke in opposition to the bill, citing concerns that the bill could potentially harm minorities or members of the LGBTQ community. “I urge you to vote no on this bill, the house of medicine is already burning and this will make it worse,” a member of the LGBTQ community argued.
Despite some pushback, SB 1580 passed and is now headed to the Senate Rules Committee.
PROTECTIONS AGAINST DISCRIMINATION
Next up on deck was SB 252, sponsored by Sen. Colleen Burton (R-Polk), which enacts protections from discrimination based on health care choices.
“This is a bill that would prohibit mask mandates and COVID-19 vaccination mandates in educational institutions, business entities, and governmental entities,” Sen. Burton explained.
Additionally, SB 252 prohibits any of those entities and institutions from requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or requiring a COVID-19 test to gain access to or receive a service.
“Doctors will also have to inform patients of any alternative COVID-19 medications authorized by the FDA or any that they believe would help the patients. It also prevents hospitals from interfering with a patient’s right to choose alternative treatments for COVID-19,” Sen. Burton concluded.
SB 252 received little pushback and was passed unanimously. Next, it heads to the Senate’s Fiscal Policy Committee.
EXEMPTIONS FOR PUBLIC RECORDS REQUIREMENTS
The last bill on deck was SB 238, also sponsored by Sen. Burton, which directly relates to SB 252.
“SB 238 deals with public records and COVID-19 vaccination mandates,” Sen. Burton explained.
More specifically, the bill provides that a complaint against a business entity, governmental entity or an educational institution for violating SB 252 is confidential and exempt from public records provisions.
SB 238 was met with no debate and passed unanimously. Next, it heads to the Senate’s Fiscal Policy Committee along with SB 252.