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Drug repackaging caps revived in biz lobby's finest hours: The final hours of session

In yet another late-session buzzer beater for the influential business lobby in Tallahassee, language that would cap the fees doctors can charge for filling workers’ compensation prescriptions appeared in a late-filed amendment.

The amendment, which pulled language from a stalled bill on “Drug Repackaging,” appeared late Thursday as an amendment to an innocuous proposal to allow some exemptions for worker’s compensation insurance.

If it passes the Senate, the controversial bill—vehemently opposed by doctors and a well-connected Broward County company—would potentially save businesses $62 million in worker’s comp premium

Rep. Mack Bernard, D-West Palm Beach, filed the amendment and said the bill would reduce worker’s compensation insurance premiums by 2.5 percent. Doctors have been accused of marking up the drugs they provide to workers compensation patients by exorbitant amounts.

It was the third late-filed multimillion-dollar business tax relief proposal to land on Thursday, as the clock wound down on the 60-day session, which ends Friday.

Earlier in the day, a proposal to provide as much as $1.5 billion in tax relief for insurers who pay their insurance premium taxes early surfaced in a budget conforming bill.

Also on Thursday, Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, filed an amendment tacking on $800 million in business tax relief to a non-controversial unemployment compensation bill.

The last-minute proposals—including the drug repackaging language—are backed by Florida’s powerful business trade groups.

The drug repackaging language tacks on an estimated $62 million to those business savings, for a whopping one-day total of $2.4 billion in tax relief.

Businesses are set to receive billions of dollars in tax breaks and incentives as a result of a business-friendly session that got even friendlier in the last 48 hours.

Other than failing to get lawmakers to approve taxes on Internet sales, minimum wage tweaks and more insurance reform, the business lobby cleaned up pretty well this session on most of its goals.

IRONIC BONUS: On the very same bill carrying the price caps on doctors, an amendment appeared Thursday that would reduce caps on excessive profits for insurers. The reason? According to lawmakers: Price-caps are antiquated, and anti-free-market. We’ll see if the drug repackaging price controls—which caps the markup by $4.18—survives the Senate on Sine Die Friday.