It was controversial enough when the Legislature was only being asked to change state law to benefit The Villages, a retirement community in Central Florida.
Now, HB 1159 has been amended to include another divisive issue: Miami Children's Hospital's request to build a 10-bed labor and delivery unit.
Both Miami Children's and The Villages are asking for the same thing: special exceptions to the state's process for determining if new hospital units, nursing homes or hospice centers are needed. That has brought down criticism on HB 1159, as hospitals and nursing homes nearby accuse The Villages and Miami Children's of asking friends in the Legislature to help them bypass the rules.
The House Health and Human Services Committee held two contentious votes today. One to add the Miami Children's request onto the bill and another to approve the amended legislation, sending it to the House floor.
The measure passed, but not without criticism from several Democrats and Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey. He unsuccessfully tried to gut the bill, introducing an amendment that would have erased all the existing language and replaced it with a study to determine if changes to the "certificate of need" process are warranted.
Fasano pointed out that the committee meeting was a last-minute addition to the House's schedule, and he said it was solely to allow the controversial bill a final chance to reach the House floor.