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Big money flows on workers comp bill

There may be few issues in the Florida legislature this year where the nexus between campaign money and public policy is more intertwined than a proposal (HB 511 and SB 668) to trim workers compensation costs by limiting what doctors can charge for dispensing repackaged drugs to workers comp patients. It's not dead yet, but the measure that Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty says would save Floridians at least $62-million annually, has met stiff opposition in the Florida Senate.

Helping lead the fight against the measure is Miramar-based Automated Healthcare Solutions, which does a lucrative business selling software to help workers comp doctors dispense medication. The company and its myriad affiliates have funnelled at least $625,000 to Republican legislators and political committees this year, including more than $370,000 to the Florida GOP. In the prior election cycle it gave more than $2-million, overwhelmingly to Republican legislators and political groups.

It's possible Automated Healthcare executives simply want to support the Republican agenda, of course. But it's curious that a similar repacked drug reform bill before the Hawaii legislature has also hit a road block after it was buried by a Democratic state Senator there who had received $35,000 in contributions connected to Automated Healthcare Solutiuons.

"Outside of the palm trees, sandy beaches, and salutary climate, there are some eerie parallels between Florida and Hawai'i, specifically the early and aggressive lobbying - and political contributions - of companies and individuals profiting from physician dispensing," workers comp consultant and frequent critic of Automated Healthcare wrote recently on his Managed Care Blog