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Rep. Mark Pafford joins Florida CHAIN health care advocates as CEO

Ahead of his last session in the House, Democratic Leader Mark Pafford is taking a new job running a group that advocates for expanded health care access.

Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, will become chief executive officer of Florida CHAIN, a group that boasts that it helped sign up more than a million people for insurance on

“This is another step in the direction on an issue that’s very important to me,” Pafford said. “Anytime you can combine your livelihood with something that in this case moves humanity forward and provides, potentially, quality of life for people that may not have it.”

The new job will put Pafford in a different role on an issue that dominated the 2015 legislative session and likely will continue to do so in 2016: funding health care.

At an Associated Press event in Tallahassee on Wednesday, Pafford reiterated what he has said before about the Democrats’ interest in expanding Medicaid. He has supported such efforts in the past, and said that last session, Democrats were happy to join with Senate Republicans on a plan to use federal Medicaid expansion money to pay for poor Floridians’ health insurance.

“I want to be able to put something out there. What the chances are, I don’t know,” he said. “We think it’s very important there be a bill.”

In this new activism job, though, Pafford will not be lobbying the Legislature, which would be illegal for him to do for two years after leaving the House next fall.

Pafford will leave the Arthur R. Marshall Foundation for the Everglades, where he has been CEO. He is termed out of the Florida House in 2016 session and does not plan to run for another office at this time.