On June 25, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a new bill deregulating the requirements governing the establishment of new health care facilities and programs in the state of Florida. Nonexempt programs, including nursing homes, hospice and specialty hospitals, have not been deregulated by this recent change in the law. Effective July 1, facilities such as general in-patient hospitals and programs such as tertiary services are no longer subject to the highly contested requirements of certificate of need approval by the Agency for Health Care Administration.

The process delineated by the prior certificate of need program required health care facilities to demonstrate an unmet need for a service or facility that was subject to regulation. Applicants for new services or facilities were required to file a detailed application with AHCA evidencing an unmet need in the proposed community or service area. Thereafter, existing health care facilities were entitled to file a statement of opposition to rebut the assertions made by the applicant. AHCA would then issue an initial decision to either approve or deny the application, depending on whether the statutory review criteria were met. After AHCA’s preliminary decision, the losing party would then file an administrative challenge with the Division of Administrative Hearings. After the parties presented evidence to an administrative law judge in a process analogous to a nonjury trial, a proposed recommended order would be issued and transmitted back to AHCA. The agency would issue a final order, and the parties could then appeal AHCA’s final decision to the district court of appeal.

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