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DeSantis Panel Says Health Innovation Needed

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.

Supporters of Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis want Florida to take a more active role in finding innovative ways to overhaul how health care is delivered in the state.

Health-care executive Alan Levine, who is helping lead a committee set up by the DeSantis transition team to examine health care, said Wednesday the state should consider creating an incubator that would help link research at the state’s universities with the buying power of Florida’s $26 billion Medicaid program. Medicaid is overseen by the Agency for Health Care Administration, which will be directly under the control of the incoming governor.

Levine is a former Agency for Health Care Administration secretary who also sits on the state university system’s Board of Governors.

“This is a great evolutionary opportunity for AHCA to expand its role into innovation,” Levine said. “Maybe it’s a public-private partnership where there is investment funds and ideas brought forward whether they are universities or private entrepreneurs. … AHCA’s in a position to be able to help deploy some of those ideas.”

Levine is not the only member of the health-care transition committee to support an increased role for medical innovation.

Committee member David Maymon sent a memo this week that requested the state create an “innovation center” for the public so people can submit ideas and make recommendation. In addition to the center, Maymon suggested that a seven-member board, with representatives from the governor’s office, the Legislature and health-care providers, meet quarterly to discuss the ideas.

Maymon, founder of Advocate Home Care, said his suggestion stems from his own frustrations with the state.

“On more than one occasion, I have come forward with an idea on how to deliver the health-care model in a more proficient manner that would produce reduced costs and provide better patient outcomes,” he wrote in his memo. “The response was always the same. While it sounds like a good idea, that is not within our ability to change.”

The incoming governor set up the Transition Advisory Committee on Health and Wellness this month, with Wednesday marking the second meeting of the group led by Levine and Lt. Gov.-elect Jeanette Nunez.

On the campaign trail, DeSantis talked largely about issues such as his opposition to the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion.

Nunez has said the administration wants to help lower health-care costs while also coming up with long-term improvements to the system, which is one of the largest items in the state’s nearly $90 billion budget

During Wednesday’s meeting, the committee also briefly discussed ways to address a shortage of health-care providers. That triggered a discussion over whether to adopt additional limits on lawsuits.

Audrey Brown, president and CEO of the Florida Association of Health Plans, said the DeSantis administration should examine whether to increase the number of physicians who are covered by a state no-risk pool.