Friday, June 12, 2009

Bill Signed Will Improve Floridians' Access to Care

From the House Dems:

On Wednesday, June 10, 2009 Governor Charlie Crist signed into law a “Clinical Labs” bill sponsored by state Representative Luis Garcia (D-Miami) and state Senator Mike Fasano (R-New Port Richey). The legislation, CS/Senate Bill 408, requires clinical labs to accept human specimens, such as blood and urine, for analysis from Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners. The legislation also eliminates a current requirement that initial workplace drug tests be conducted only by laboratories which will allow Florida employers to conduct employee drug tests in a more efficient and cost-saving manner

“I commend Governor Crist for signing into law this important legislation that has been widely supported in both the Florida House and state Senate,” said Representative Luis Garcia. “This new law will improve Floridians’ access to care while also promoting healthy Florida workplaces. I am proud to have worked on this vital health care legislation.”

Advanced registered nurse practitioners already play a critical role in improving Floridians’ health. They provide primary health care services, manage chronic illnesses and diagnose acute illnesses. They are also allowed to order laboratory tests. Under the new law, they will be able to do even more good for patients even though their scope of practice is not expanded.

The law amends a statute to allow advanced registered nurse practitioners to be among those who clinical labs are required to accept human specimens on the order of physicians, dentists and certain others.

Additionally, the law eliminates a requirement that initial drug tests performed in compliance with a drug-free workplace program be conducted by laboratories. These labs are often located out of state and charge shipping and handling fees. As a result, employees and employers have faced delays and high costs for drug testing that can be eased under the new law.

Nearly 20 million Americans were estimated in 2007 to be illegal drug users, according to the 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). This research also indicates that three of every four drug users are employed. Consequently, employers lose an estimated $160 billion per year due to absenteeism, increased healthcare costs and decreased productivity stemming from drug use.

In Florida, employers who implement drug-free workplace programs are eligible for discounts on workers’ compensation insurance. The new law will save employers and employees even more time and money.

The law will still require that confirmatory drug tests, performed at licensed labs, and medical review be conducted before final results are available to employers.

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