Guardian bill passes first hurdle in Florida

Measure moves to Justice subcommittee

ORLANDO, Fla. – The House Children, Families and Seniors subcommittee on Thursday unanimously passed a guardianship bill that was recently introduced to the Florida legislature. The bill will now be presented to the Justice subcommittee for consideration.

Stakeholders in Florida’s guardianship program are trying to push legislation to increase oversight on state guardians, especially when it comes to how they handle their clients’ medical directives and money.

HB 709 was created after former Orlando based guardian Rebecca Fierle made headlines for placing do not resuscitate orders on patients who did not want to die. She’s also accused of double-billing both her patients and a local hospital to the tune of almost 4 million dollars without the courts even knowing.

“It helps those who cannot help themselves,” state Rep. Colleen Burton said, who helped draft and filed the bill.

Burton told the committee how the bill would prevent guardians from having absolute power over a patient’s medical and financial affairs and would prevent them from being able to receive any sort of kickbacks.

“We want to make sure we know everything that's coming in,” Burton said.

Burton told the committee the guardianship bill would provide at least one more layer of oversight in cases involving patients with DNR orders. HB 709 would also require more research be done to see if there are any alternatives to putting a guardianship in place.

“We had big meetings with lots of folks over the course of the early fall to talk about what can we do,” Burton said. “How can we craft, how can we narrowly craft a bill around guardianship that makes sure when somebody is in a position to not speak for themselves, that a decision is not made about their lives that may not be the decision they want made.”

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