Proposed merger of Florida health and human-services agencies appears dead this year

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With time running short, a proposed merger of Florida health and human-services agencies appears dead this year — and lawmakers also likely will not approve a major overhaul of the Department of Health, reports Jim Saunders of Health News Florida.

Gov. Rick Scott’s transition team proposed merging the Department of Health, the Agency for Health Care Administration and two other agencies. Also, the Department of Health spent months putting together a proposed reorganization plan at the request of the Legislature.

But the House and Senate have not moved forward with bills to carry out either idea. The annual legislative session is scheduled to end May 6, and senators won’t even meet next week because of the Easter and Passover holidays.

Also, legislative leaders are preoccupied with a series of other difficult issues, including negotiating a tight budget, revamping Medicaid and reaching agreement on controversial changes to the state pension system.

Two Senate Republican leaders said Wednesday they have not been discussing an overhaul of health agencies. Health and Human Services Appropriations Chairman Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said he is open to the issue, but “realistically, given where we are, I’m not sure how promising it is.”

“We’re focused on the budget and Medicaid reform,” said Negron, who is a key player on both of those issues.

House Health Care Appropriations Chairman Matt Hudson, R-Naples, described the House’s approach to the agency issues as the “crawl, walk, run theory.” Continue reading Jim Saunder’s article here.

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.