House Panel Backs Plan For New Birth Options

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The full House on Friday approved a bill (HB 23) that would allow patients to stay in ambulatory surgical centers for up to 24 hours, ending a long-standing prohibition on overnight stays, and would authorize so-called “recovery care centers,” where patients could stay up to 72 hours after undergoing surgical procedures.

House leaders have championed those proposed changes for years, but the Senate has been reticent to move forward. In a sign that things may change this year, the Senate Health Policy Committee approved a measure (SB 250), which would authorize the overnight stays for ambulatory surgical centers. The bill does not include allowing recovery care centers.

The birth center issue, however, has emerged this year.

With offices in Tampa and in the Orlando area, Women’s Care Florida has 67 outpatient centers across the state and delivers more 13,000 babies annually. CEO Andrew Mintz told the House panel that the physician group is interested in developing an advanced birth center if authorized by the Legislature.

“Each day, we get more and more pressure from employers, from patients and from payers to really hit the goals of what they call the triple aim in health care,” which, Mintz said, is improving quality, lowering costs and improving the patient experience.

Though she supported the bill on Tuesday, Rep Amy Mercado, D-Orlando, said she had concerns about the bill’s safety precautions and noted that births can get complicated even with women who are considered low risks.

She had three cesarean sections under the age of 24 and was considered low risk. Yet an adverse reaction to anesthesia, following an unsuccessful attempt at a vaginal birth following a C-section, sent her and her infant daughter into distress.

“You’re not guaranteed low-risk delivery because it was a low-risk pregnancy,” she said.