Florida House Republicans want to reorganize and refocus the Department of Health on what they say is its "core mission." Under a bill filed yesterday, the surgeon general would lose some powers, the department would eliminate a number of divisions (unless authorized by the Legislature) and the department would have to present a reorganization plan to the Legislature by year's end.
The idea is getting a cool reception from the Senate's health budget chief, Republican Durell Peaden of Crestview. He called the bill "absolute news to me." And then he proceded to trash the idea.
"When you start reorganizing the Department of Health, the most money you’re going to save is changing the signs," he said, suggesting that with fewer divisions the department won't have as many printing costs.
“You need to leave it alone. We’ve got enough problems. You don’t need to create any more. There’s no efficiencies to be (had)," Peaden said. "We’ve got enough problems just getting the money in the right slot right now.”
The House bill sponsor, Republican Rep. Matt Hudson of Naples, was incredulous.
"To think that theres a state agency that can't have efficiences is a little hard to fathom," Hudson said. "I'm disappointed he's not open minded."
Hudson said Peaden's opposition "will not determine nor will it thwart my intent... this is part of a multi-year-effort." Or another way of saying it: Peaden's termed out after the November elections.
But in the meantime, Peaden said he's not budging.
“I don’t have any appetite at all for that. We’ve got enough problems right now with what we’re trying to do with managed care, medical homes and things like that. After looking at all those budgets for all these years, there’s no big savings out there because when you create one savings you’re probably going to create two or three problems.”
This doesn't mean the idea is dead in the Senate. But it's certainly a shot across the bow from a senior senator who is not only a doctor but has a considerable soapbox.