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Florida Statutes § 381.04065

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“Rural health network cooperative agreements under the public health law”

Cooperative agreements between members of rural health networks are permitted to the extent that such agreements create rural health networks that will improve the quality of health care delivered to rural patients and control health care costs.   Such agreements permit for the consolidation of network hospital services or technologies without violation of state or federal antitrust laws.  Prior to entering into these cooperative agreements, members of certified rural health networks must seek approval from the Department of Health. 

The Department of Health is responsible for determining that the potential benefits of these cooperative agreements outweigh any disadvantages stemming from potential reduction in competition.  In making such a determination, the Department of Health considers the following criteria: (a) consolidation of services or facilities in market areas used by rural health network patients to avoid duplication; (b) promotion of cooperation between rural health network members in the market area; (c) encouragement of cost sharing among rural health network facilities; (d) enhancement of quality of rural health care; or (e) improvement in utilization of rural health resources and management.  Once the agreements are approved, the Department of Health is responsible for reviewing each approved agreement every 2 years.  If the Department of Health determines that the potential benefits no longer outweigh the disadvantages stemming from potential reduction in competition, then the Department must initiate proceedings to terminate the approval governing the cooperative agreement. 

Note: Rural health networks include non-profit legal entities that consist of rural and urban health care providers and others organized to plan and deliver health care services on a cooperative basis in a rural area.  Health care providers are defined as any individual, group, or public or private entity providing preventive health care, primary health care, secondary and tertiary health care, in-hospital health care, public health care, and health promotion and education.

Current as of June 2015