Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed a plan to revamp the Florida Department of Health and take steps such as closing the A.G. Holley state tuberculosis hospital in Palm Beach County. The bill (HB 1263) also repeals a controversial septic-tank inspection program that faced widespread opposition in areas such as rural communities. House leaders have long called for overhauling the department, saying that it needed to become more focused. The bill, in part, rewrites the department’s mission and the role of the state surgeon general and calls for improvements in the Division of Medical Quality Assurance, which oversees licensing and regulation of health professionals. Some lawmakers and public-health advocates, however, fought the bill, arguing it could lead to reducing preventive health care. Also, critics questioned moves such as closing A.G. Holley and contracting for tuberculosis patients to be treated elsewhere.
Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.