Florida Gov. DeSantis vetoes first bills from 2023 legislative session

DeSantis did not detail his reasons in veto letters sent to Secretary of State Cord Byrd.

Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday vetoed two bills, including a measure that would have added restrictions about titles used by medical professionals and required practitioners to wear name tags or display licenses when treating patients.

DeSantis did not detail his reasons in two veto letters sent to Secretary of State Cord Byrd.

The bill about medical titles and identification (SB 230) was sponsored by Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Chairwoman Gayle Harrell, a Stuart Republican who argued during the legislative session that it would provide “transparency” to patients.

The bill also was a priority of Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, whose spokesperson issued a statement acknowledging "the questions raised by various groups as the bill moved through the legislative process."

"Transparency between patients and their health care providers is important and the bill sought to help patients, particularly our elderly, better understand the various roles of different members of their medical team," Katie Betta said. "Every medical professional is an essential component of critical care for our residents.

"However, academic and professional medical credentials are often assigned interchangeable working titles, and it can be confusing for patients who are in a vulnerable situation and may not understand the limitations of each role," Betta added. Passidomo "has been aware of the Governor’s plans to veto the bill, but believes it started an important conversation she hopes to continue."

Among other things, the bill could have led to practitioners facing discipline for not wearing name tags or not displaying licenses in their offices. Practitioners also would have been required to verbally identify themselves by name and profession to new patients.

Similar issues have been debated for several years in the Legislature, in part because of efforts to draw distinctions between optometrists and ophthalmologists. Harrell said optometrists might have earned doctorate degrees to be called a doctor of optometry.

But she said they are not physicians who have been to medical school and spent years in residency programs.

“It’s important that people understand the level of education of that individual who is treating them,” Harrell said in March. “There's a lot of confusion out there, you know, and we don't want advertising signs, or even name tags to misrepresent (that), or a patient to be misinformed as to who exactly is treating them.”

The other bill that DeSantis vetoed (HB 385) dealt with Florida’s involvement in the Professional Counselors Licensure Compact. 

It's a type of agreement that allows telehealth and in-person treatment across state lines.

The bill would have backed allowing states to collect fees for practicing under the compact. House sponsor Juan Porras, R-Miami, said the proposal was aimed at clearing up an issue after Florida joined the compact last year. 

Jim Rosica contributed. This is a complimentary News Service of Florida story for City & State Florida readers. For more of the most comprehensive and in-depth political and policy news, consider a subscription, beginning with a 10-day free trial. Click here to sign up!

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