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New HCV Screening Bill in Florida - Mia Jones' bill would require doctors to offer Hepatitis C tests to Baby Boomers
  By Matt Dixon Wed, Jan 22, 2014 @ 3:21 pm
The Florida Times Union
Tallahassee | The Centers for Disease Control issued a report in May highlighting that 75 percent of all adult patients with Hepatitis C are so-called Baby Boomers, or those who were born between 1945-1965.
As a result, state Rep. Mia Jones, D-Jacksonville, has filed legislation requiring doctors to offer those patients a Hepatitis C test during check-ups. [http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/details.aspx?MemberId=4440]
"When I talk to some doctors, they say that it's currently not a regular question that is asked," Jones said.
The legislation requires only that doctors offer a test, not that a test be conducted. Patients would be asked at both hospital and doctor visits. There are exemptions in place if the patient is facing a life-threatening emergency, lacks the ability to consent to a test, or already been offered a test.
The Centers for Disease Control is unsure why so many Baby Boomers have Hepetitis C, but says many might not even know they have the disease. "Since people living with Hepatitis C can live for decades without symptoms, many Baby Boomers are unknowingly living with an infection they got many years ago," read the center's report.
The Florida Association of Health Plans, which represents the state's largest health insurance companies, was considered a potential opponent, but now says it may not fight the bill. There had been concern that the association could deem the legislation as creating a new mandate, which it generally opposes. In an email sent Wednesday, Audrey Brown, the association's president and CEO, said " it doesn't appear that the bill is a mandate of coverage," but declined to comment further.
House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, also expressed concern about the potential of a new mandate after a news conference Jones held last week to unveil the bill.
Jones has met with Weatherford, who "encouraged" her to make sure that the language did not represent a new mandate.
Jones says she has a meeting scheduled with the health insurers to discuss any concerns they have with the bill.
"It's important to remember it's not like they are required to take the test," said Jones, who is the ranking-member of the House Health and Human Services Committee.
Though there is no legislation filed in the Senate, Jones expects state Sen. Aaron Bean, a Fernandina Beach Republican, or state Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, to carry the bill in that chamber.

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