What started as a legislative effort to protect the Hospital Corporation of America from lawsuits over its trauma centers could also clamp down on the for-profit company's outsized trauma response fees, and slow down its plans to open still more facilities.
A yearlong investigation by the Tampa Bay Times found that trauma centers across the state are exploiting a little-known fee that is meant to offset some expenses of high-priced care. But HCA's average $28,000 trauma response fee is by far the highest in the state. The for-profit company now has five Florida trauma centers. If it can win state approval, the company has ambitions to open more.
Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, said she read the Times report and concluded the fees were "outrageous." She has proposed an amendment to Senate Bill 1276, intended to protect HCA from legal challenges against three of its trauma centers. Grimley's proposal would cap the trauma response fee for one-year at $15,000, a level that would affect only HCA and one other for-profit trauma center.
Her amendment, which the Senate Health Policy Committee will consider Tuesday, also creates a one-year moratorium on opening new trauma centers and convenes an advisory committee to help revise the application and approval process.