Associated Press News Release
By STEVE MILLER
TALAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida lawmakers are considering a measure to allocate $5 million annually in state funds to add medical tourism to the list of state attractions.
The money would go to promote a combination of hospitality and medical care to people from places both domestic and foreign, including the Middle East, the Caribbean and Europe.
Although U.S. residents have for years sought treatment overseas to save money, this is one of the first times a U.S. state has considered marketing itself as a medical tourism destination, according to a trade association.
A Kansas-based medical management firm is now turning the former Metropolitan Hospital of Miami into a medical tourist destination.
News Release: Florida Senate
Tallahassee–Senate Bill 1150, Medical Tourism, sponsored by Senator Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach) today passed the Senate Committee on Commerce and Tourism, chaired by Senator Nancy Detert (R-Venice). SB 1150 directs Enterprise Florida, Inc., and the Florida Tourism Industry Marketing Corporation (Visit Florida) to promote medical tourism and market the state as a health care destination.
“Medical tourism has existed in Florida since Ponce de Leon set out in search of the Fountain of Youth. By expanding medical tourism, Florida’s quality health care providers will be able to tap into the expertise of Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida to promote their services while advancing the state’s goal of annually attracting more than 100 million tourists to Florida,” said Senator Bean. “This legislation incentivizes quality health care providers to offer innovative and competitively priced service packages that include amenities from our state’s established tourism network of hotels, restaurants, and attractions.”
“This legislation will promote national and international awareness of the qualifications, scope of services, and specialized health care expertise of quality providers in Florida, including our Cancer Centers of Excellence,” said Florida Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville).
SB 1150 adds medical tourism to Visit Florida’s 4-year marketing plan and showcase of Florida providers. The bill allocates $3.5 million annually from the total appropriation for Visit Florida in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) for this purpose. The bill also creates a matching grant program within Visit Florida for local and regional economic development organizations to create targeted medical tourism marketing initiatives. The bill allocates $1.5 million annually from the total appropriation for Visit Florida in the GAA to be used for this purpose.