Florida Record

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Appeals court denies challenge to medical record copy fees

By Richard Jones | May 9, 2017

TALLAHASSEE — The 1st District Court of Appeal has declined a challenge to how much the Florida Board of Medicine said patients can be charged for copies of medical records. 

The dispute centered around the amount the board charges for copies and whether the changes were an overreach of authority by the board.

In 2015, the Florida Board of Medicine approved a change that allowed patients to be charged a maximum of $1 per page for records. The previous version of the rule allowed for a top charge of $1 per page for the first 25 pages and 25 cents per page thereafter.

The change was opposed by several organizations, including the Florida Justice Association (FJA). The FJA is a Tallahassee-based legal advocacy group that has over 3,000 attorney members, according to its website. The organization claimed the increase bore no relation to the actual cost of producing the documents and that such an increase would be burdensome.

The Board of Medicine has maintained that Florida law grants it the authority to regulate physicians, and that authority extends to the adoption of rules governing how much patients and other requesting parties can be charged for copies of medical records.  

In December 2015, the board won the first round of legal matchups which led to an appeal to the 1st District Court of Appeal. In the ruling Judge Ross Bilbrey confirmed that the board has the absolute legislative authority to enact and amend the rule as granted by sections 456.057(17) and 458.309 of the Florida statute. Bilbrey cited Florida statute 120.541(3), denying the argument of appellants Daniel R. Fernandez and Dax J. Lonetto Sr. PLLC that the rule was moot because it had not been ratified by the Florida Legislature.

“Appellants would improperly read into the statute a deadline for ratification and a requirement for withdrawal if a rule was not ratified during the legislative session during which it was submitted," Bilbrey wrote. "There are statutory deadlines for submission of a rule to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House for ratification, but no deadline for the Legislature to act upon a rule submitted for ratification."

Judges Harvey Jay and Allen Winsor concurred with the decision.

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Florida First District Court of Appeal