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Million-Dollar Gift, Billions in Contracts

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Miami's Mike Fernandez is no stranger to health care or Republican politics. But questions are being raised about his relationship to Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election and $1 billion in Medicaid managed care contracts his companies were recently awarded.

Fernandez, named last week as Scott’s campaign finance co-chair, is part-owner of two companies recently awarded multiple Medicaid contracts by the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Florida Times-Union reported (paywall alert).

Fernandez, chairman of Miami’s MBF Healthcare Partners equity firm, has donated $1 million to committees backing the governor’s re-election, reporter Matt Dixon said. Companies he owns also are tied to nearly $800,000 more in donations.

The Medicaid contracts are part of the state’s ongoing shift of enrollees to private companies.

Better Health, a network of health care providers in which Fernandez owns a 49 percent share, won three contracts in several of the state’s 11 regions. Another company, Clear Health Alliance, will provide “specialty” care to people living with HIV and AIDS in all but the panhandle of Florida.

State officials said a strict procurement process is in place, preventing favoritism. That includes conflict-of-interest forms and “blackouts” where companies involved in bids can’t contact legislative or agency staff, the Times-Union reported.

Fernandez, a longtime Republican donor and fundraiser, is not the only one in Florida’s health care industry connected to politics.

In the past two election cycles, Jacksonville-based Florida Blue has donated more than $5 million, according to the Times-Union.  A significant number of Medicaid contracts have been awarded to Prestige Health Care, of which Florida Blue is part owner.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.