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Board of Medicine Approves $1-a-Page Copy Fee

Barry Gutierrez, NPR
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medical_records_photo_from_Barry_Gutierrez_of_NPR.jpg
Credit Barry Gutierrez, NPR
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  Doctors’ offices and others can charge patients $1 a page for copies of their medical records under a rule change adopted by the Florida Board of Medicine early Friday. The increased fee applies even if the records are kept and sent electronically.

The rule previously set the maximum for patients at a lower amount for lengthy records: $1 a page for the first 25 pages, and 25 cents a page thereafter. 

The unanimous vote represents a defeat for the trial bar and patient advocacy groups, and a victory for physician groups and the industry that specializes in handling copying requests for medical practices. 

Those who supported the increase say it’s justified, in that the cap has been the same since 1988. Hospitals have been charging patients $1 a page for years, they say.

The matter has been hard-fought by lawyers who specialize in certain areas of the law, including  medical malpractice suits, auto accidents and disability applications. Hillsborough Circuit Judge William Levens ruled last year that the lower per-page fee should apply to lawyers who have signed authorizations to request records on behalf of patients.

The medical board had been scheduled to adopt the higher fee limit 14 months ago, but was stopped when their counsel said they had to do a Statement of Estimated Regulatory Costs.  This is a study of the impact of the rule change on small business to assure it would not impose a significant financial burden. If the impact were significant, the Legislature would have to ratify the rule change.

The current executive director for the medical board, André Ourso, submitted a statement saying there would be a cost to small law firms but that it is not possible to determine exactly what that might amount to. --Special correspondent Carol Gentry is part of  in Tampa. receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.After serving two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Colombia, Gentry worked for a number of newspapers including The Wall Street Journal, St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times), the Tampa Tribune and Orlando Sentinel. She was a Kaiser Foundation Media Fellow in 1994-95 and earned an Master's in Public Administration at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 1996. She directed a journalism fellowship program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for four years.Gentry created Health News Florida, an independent non-profit health journalism publication, in 2006, and served as editor until September, 2014, when she became a special correspondent. She and Health News Florida joined WUSF in 2012.
Carol Gentry
Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.
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