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Less controversial Department of Health reorganization plan moves in Senate

A Senate panel has approved a Department of Health reorganization plan that closely mirrors changes the agency requested for itself: a streamlined mission, fewer divisions, and closure of the A.G. Holley State Hospital treating tuberculosis patients.

And that puts the Senate version, Senate Bill 1824, in contrast with the House proposal that added another controversial component: decentralizing the Department of Health and shifting many of the duties, as well as costs, to county governments.

The Senate's Health Regulation Committee, the legislation's first committee stop, approved the measure on a unanimous vote.

Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, the committee's chairman, said he will work with the sponsor of the House proposal, Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples, in hopes of reaching a compromise that doesn’t overly burden counties or dissolve the core functions of the agency.

“If we can do it in a way that will still maintain the Department of Health here in Tallahassee, vigilant of what is going on in our local communities, I think it is something worth supporting,” Garcia said.