Under the Florida Health Care Clinic Act, most health care clinics not owned by a licensed physician or practitioner must apply for a license with the Agency For Health Care Administration (AHCA). The licensing process can be quite onerous and requires background checks of owners and certain employees, financial requirements, and inspections. Because the law was a result of investigations into personal injury clinics, a quirk in the language of the law made it possible for health care clinics that did not submit claims to either insurance or government payers to avoid the licensure requirement. There are many such practices in Florida that rely on patient only payments, including cosmetic surgery practices, diet centers, wellness centers, massage establishments and medical spas.

A new proposed statute, S.B. 732, which is designed to address cosmetic surgery centers, would change the law for all clinics and eliminate the reimbursement requirement and require all health care clinics that receive any payment that are not physician or practitioner owned to become licensed clinics. The Bill is currently winding its way through legislative committees and if passed, would affect a large number of practices in Florida.

By Bernard M. Cassidy