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Get the latest coverage of the 2024 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee from our coverage partners and WUSF.

A bill to designate 'rural emergency hospitals' is sent to DeSantis

A sign for an Emergency Trauma Center.
Darwin Brandis/Getty Images
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Complaints about pregnant women being turned away from emergency rooms spiked in the months after states began enacting strict abortion laws following the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

The measure stems from a federal law that allowed the designation of rural emergency hospitals and made them eligible for Medicare payments.

The Legislature on Tuesday formally sent at least 27 bills to Gov. Ron DeSantis, including a measure that would create a new category of “rural emergency hospitals” that backers say would help ensure health-care access in rural areas.

The measure (SB 644) stems from a federal law that allowed the designation of rural emergency hospitals and made them eligible for Medicare payments. The hospitals are required to be licensed by states, creating a need for the bill.

Facilities designated as rural emergency hospitals could provide emergency services, observation care and outpatient services that do not exceed an average length of stay of 24 hours. They would be exempted from requirements about providing inpatient care and such things as surgical care.

Among the other bills sent Tuesday to DeSantis was a measure (HB 385) that would allow courts to require parents who share custody of children to make timesharing exchanges at “neutral safe exchange” locations. It would require county sheriffs to designate at least one parking lot at sheriff’s offices or substations as safe exchange locations. Such locations would have to meet various requirements, such as providing adequate lighting, video surveillance and being accessible 24 hours a day.

The bill was called the “Cassi Carli Law,” after a Northwest Florida mother who disappeared after meeting the father of her child to make a timeshare exchange. Carli was later found dead in Alabama. The bills passed during the legislative session that ended March 8.

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