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Time running short for legislative fix to trauma center dispute


Lawmakers in both chambers want to allow three disputed trauma centers owned by Hospital Corporation of America to continue operating, but the House and the Senate have very different ideas on how to get it done.

Lawmakers say they aren't sure how a compromise will be reached. If nothing gets done by Friday, costly lawsuits will continue between HCA and safety net hospitals contending the HCA centers should not have been allowed to open.

The Senate approved its trauma center legislation on Monday with a 33-3 vote. Language protecting the three HCA centers from legal action was amended onto Senate Bill 1354, which regulates aspects of the state's Medicaid managed care program.

In addition to clearing the way for trauma centers at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, Blake Medical Center and Ocala Regional Medical Center to remain open, the measure creates a one-year $15,000 cap on trauma activation fees, a one-year moratorium on new trauma centers and an advisory committee to make recommendations for approving new trauma centers.

The fee cap, moratorium and advisory committee were added after a Tampa Bay Times investigation found hospitals across the state were charging huge admission fees to trauma patients, and the highest charges were at HCA facilities.

Read more here.