Florida Senate - 2022                                    SB 1820
       By Senator Baxley
       12-01663-22                                           20221820__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to protections of medical conscience;
    3         creating s. 381.00321, F.S.; providing a short title;
    4         providing legislative findings and intent; defining
    5         terms; providing that health care providers and health
    6         care payors have the right not to participate in or
    7         pay for any health care services that violate their
    8         consciences; providing that providers and payors have
    9         a right to make certain decisions consistent with
   10         their religious beliefs under certain circumstances;
   11         prohibiting a person from taking or threatening to
   12         take adverse action against such providers and payors
   13         for specified actions; providing for civil remedies
   14         and damages; providing immunity from civil, criminal,
   15         and administrative liability for such providers and
   16         payors under certain circumstances; providing an
   17         effective date.
   19  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   21         Section 1. Section 381.00321, Florida Statutes, is created
   22  to read:
   23         381.00321Rights of conscience of health care providers and
   24  health care payors.—
   25         (1)SHORT TITLE.—This section may be cited as the “Health
   26  Care Ethics and Liberty Protection Act.”
   28         (a)The Legislature finds that the right of conscience is a
   29  fundamental and inalienable right. Threats to the right of
   30  conscience of health care providers and health care payors have
   31  become increasingly common and severe in recent years. The swift
   32  pace of scientific advancement, the expansion of medical
   33  capabilities, and with the mistaken notion that health care
   34  providers and health care payors are mere public utilities,
   35  promise to make the crisis worse unless action is taken to
   36  restore conscience to its rightful place. As patient autonomy to
   37  decline a health care service must be respected, health care
   38  providers and health care payors must have the right to decline
   39  participating in or paying for specific, nonemergency services
   40  that violate their consciences.
   41         (b)It is the intent of the Legislature that a health care
   42  provider or health care payor not be compelled to participate in
   43  or pay for any health care service that the provider or payor
   44  objects to on the basis of conscience.
   45         (3)DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term:
   46         (a)“Conscience” means the religious, moral, or ethical
   47  beliefs or principles held by a health care provider or health
   48  care payor.
   49         (b)“Health care payor” means a health insurer that pays
   50  for, or arranges for, the payment of a health care service
   51  provided to a patient, whether such payment is made in whole or
   52  in part.
   53         (c)“Health care provider” means a health care provider as
   54  defined in s. 768.381(1)(f) or a student of a health care
   55  education program.
   56         (d)“Health care service” means inpatient or outpatient
   57  tests or treatments of a human disease, condition, or
   58  dysfunction or medical or other health-care-related research.
   59         (e)“Health insurer” means an authorized insurer offering
   60  health insurance as defined in s. 624.603 for individual or
   61  group coverage, a health maintenance organization as defined in
   62  s. 641.19(12) issuing coverage through an individual or group
   63  contract, or a self-insurance plan as defined in s. 624.031.
   64         (f)“Participate” means to take part in any way in
   65  providing a health care service or any part of such service.
   66         (4)RIGHTS OF CONSCIENCE.—
   67         (a)A health care provider or health care payor has the
   68  right not to participate in or pay for any specific health care
   69  service that violates the provider’s or payor’s conscience.
   70         (b)A health care provider that is a business entity or a
   71  health care payor that holds itself out to the public as
   72  religious and states in its governing documents that it has a
   73  religious purpose or mission and has internal operating policies
   74  or procedures that implement such purpose or mission has the
   75  right to make employment, staffing, contracting, and
   76  credentialing decisions consistent with the provider’s or
   77  payor’s religious beliefs.
   79         (a)A person may not take or threaten to take adverse
   80  action against a health care provider or health care payor for:
   81         1.Declining to participate in a health care service on the
   82  basis of conscience.
   83         2.Disclosing information to an appropriate governmental
   84  agency that the health care provider or health care payor
   85  reasonably believes is evidence of an employer’s:
   86         a.Violation of this section;
   87         b.Violation of any law, rule, or regulation;
   88         c.Violation of any standard of care or other ethical
   89  guidelines for the provision of any health care service; or
   90         d.Gross mismanagement, gross waste of funds, abuse of
   91  authority, or any action that is a substantial and specific
   92  danger to public health or safety.
   93         (b)A health care provider or health care payor that
   94  alleges a violation of this section may bring a civil cause of
   95  action for treble damages, an injunction, or any other
   96  appropriate relief in law or equity. Injunctive relief includes,
   97  but is not limited to, reinstatement of a health care provider
   98  or health care payor to a previous position, reinstatement of
   99  board certification, and relicensure. Such damages are
  100  cumulative and may not be limited by any other remedies that may
  101  be available under any other law. A prevailing plaintiff is
  102  entitled to recover reasonable attorney fees and court costs.
  103  Any additional burden or expense incurred by another health care
  104  provider or health care payor arising from the exercise of the
  105  right of conscience is not a defense to a violation of this
  106  section.
  107         (6)IMMUNITY FROM LIABILITY.—Health care providers and
  108  health care payors are immune from civil, criminal, or
  109  administrative liability for exercising the right of conscience
  110  with respect to a health care service. A health care provider or
  111  health care payor that is a business entity is immune from
  112  civil, criminal, or administrative liability for any claims
  113  related to or arising out of the exercise of the right of
  114  conscience by a person employed, contracted, or credentialed by
  115  such provider or payor.
  116         Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2022.