The bill now heads to Governor DeSantis’ desk
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida House voted today to pass Senate Bill 1580 (SB 1580), which would allow healthcare providers and payors to refuse to provide healthcare services to Floridians based on their personal beliefs. Additionally, the bill grants providers full immunity from liability over any negative consequences resulting from their denial of care. As a result, Floridians will have to fear discriminatory treatment from medical providers every time they meet a new provider, calling into question everyone’s trust in their medical care.
This bill is overly broad and includes any healthcare provider or facility licensed under a dozen different statutes, including doctors, nurses, pharmacies, hospitals, mental health providers, medical transport services, clinical lab personnel, nursing homes, and more. Additionally, the bill allows providers to refuse to provide any type of “healthcare service,” broadly defined as including, but not limited to, medical research, medical procedures, testing, diagnosis, referral, dispensing medications, therapy, recordkeeping, and “any other care or service.”
The bill broadly defines healthcare payors to include any employer, as well as any health insurer, health plan, HMO, or “any other entity that pays for, or arranges for payment of, any health care service.”
The ACLU of Florida opposes this bill and urges Governor DeSantis to veto the bill.
Kara Gross, legislative director and senior policy counsel of the ACLU of Florida, responded with the following:
“This bill will disrupt the delivery of health care as we know it. If signed into law, Florida’s over 22 million residents' access to healthcare will be subject to the whims of someone else’s alleged ethical beliefs.
“The potential public health and private sector consequences of such a bill are wide-ranging and detrimental. This bill is so overly broad that it includes not just doctors, but any health care provider or facility licensed under a dozen different statutes, including doctors, nurses, pharmacies, hospitals, mental health providers, medical transport services, clinical lab personnel, and more. It applies to both public and private schools, colleges, and universities. It applies to health insurers, employers, HMOs, ‘or any other entity that pays for, or arranges for payment of, any health care service.’
“This bill goes far beyond any alleged claims of religious freedom, as it applies not just to religious objections, but also to moral and ethical beliefs. Does the legislature really want to force private businesses to retain employees who refuse to do their job on the basis of a subjectively held alleged ethical or moral belief?
“What does this even mean? There is no definition of moral or ethical in the bill. Who determines what constitutes a sincerely held moral or ethical belief, and more importantly, why should access to health care be denied based on such vague, imprecise, and subjective terms?
“SB 1580 is akin to a state-sanctioned license to discriminate in the provision of any healthcare service. It is quite frankly shocking in its breadth and vagueness and government overreach into the private sector and regulated businesses. Medical standards -- not ethical, moral, or religious beliefs -- should guide medical treatment and health care services.”