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DeSantis signs 2023-24 Florida budget that includes $190 million for cancer initiatives

Gov. Ron DeSantis signs the 2023-24 fiscal budget during a signing event at the Pelican Yacht Club in Fort Pierce on Thursday morning, June 15, 2023.
Gov. Ron DeSantis
Gov. Ron DeSantis trimmed $510.9 million from a record-high state spending plan.

The bulk of the cancer-related funding — roughly $111.6 million — will go toward the Casey DeSantis Cancer Research Program. A quick look at the winners and losers among health initiatives.

About $190 million in the state budget for the next fiscal year will go toward cancer research and care, as Gov. Ron DeSantis signed off on the state spending plan Thursday.

The bulk of the cancer-related funding — roughly $111.6 million — will go toward the Casey DeSantis Cancer Research Program.

RELATED: DeSantis axes $510 million from a record budget

Speaking during a bill-signing event in Fort Pierce on Thursday, the governor highlighted that the overall cancer funding will be dispersed among numerous entities.

“My wife has really spearheaded that,” DeSantis said. “I think she’s smart about, you know, the same old stuff, giving it to the same people. … We want to have more competition for this money. And we want people who are willing to innovate and maybe think outside the box a little bit.”

The governor’s office announced in 2021 that Casey DeSantis had been diagnosed with breast cancer. DeSantis’ office in March 2022 said that the first lady was cancer-free.

All cancer centers that receive funding through the program will be required to submit data to the state about new cancer diagnoses and cancer recurrence.

A number of cancer research entities also are poised to get millions of dollars in funding through the budget.

The Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute is in line to receive nearly $20.6 million, and the William G. "Bill" Bankhead Jr. and David Coley Cancer Research Program will get $10 million.

The plan also steers $4 million to the Live Like Bella Childhood Cancer Foundation.

The budget also includes $20 million for grants intended to “support innovative cancer research, including emerging research trends and promising practices, which can serve as a catalyst for further exploration.

The budget came in at roughly $116.5 billion, a 6 percent increase from the current year’s spending plan. That was after DeSantis trimmed $510.9 million from a record-high state spending plan sent by the Legislature.

DeSantis approved $385 million to increase access to treatment, recovery support and continues research and surveillance activities that seek to reduce opioid overdoses, and unemployment, hospitalization and homelessness related to addiction.

Some other big-ticket health initiatives received the governor's approval, including $75 million for a University of Florida health campus in Jacksonville. The 15-acre grad school, which will also receive local funding, will focus on health care business, engineering and artificial intelligence.

The budget increases funding of $290 million to support the care of pregnant and postpartum women and children. This goal is to improve maternal health outcomes for women at high risk for maternal morbidity, expanding a pilot program for pregnant women into 20 Florida counties.

It will also improve access to behavioral health services for children, support quality improvement initiatives for children birth to 36 months who have a developmental delay and expand school health and dental services.

This budget also includes $3.8 million to support premiums for families who receive services through the Florida KidCare Program and were impacted by Hurricane Ian.

An additional $76 million will increase hospital rates for hospitals that care for acutely ill newborns and pediatric patients. Another $54 million is included for stand-alone children’s hospitals serving Medicaid patients as well as $76 million to increase the rates provided to pediatric physicians.

The budget provides more than $625 million to support behavioral health services, including mental health treatment facilities and enhancement of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline services.

Another $14 million is headed toward a University of South Florida clinical trial of hyperbaric oxygen therapy effectiveness in treating post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries among veterans and active-duty military service members.

Also of note is a permanent sales tax exemption for diapers and incontinence products valued at $27.5 million. The budget exempts adult diapers and incontinence undergarments, pads and liners.

Also, there is a permanent sales tax exemption for oral hygiene products at approximately $39.8 million. It covers toothpaste, mouthwash, dental floss, electric and manual toothbrushes and dental picks and irrigators.

While a huge chunk of the budget will go toward health initiatives, some health projects didn’t make it through the governor’s line-item vetoes.

These include a $20 million spending request by Sen. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, to construct an Academic STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) nursing facility at the University of South Florida’s Sarasota-Manatee Campus.

Another proposal called for $2.9 million for the USF Department of Mental Health Law and Policy in a proposal to develop tools to improve response and treatment of opioid use and overdoses.

Also, $5 million was trimmed that would have helped pay for a road for a new Moffitt Cancer Center Life Sciences facility in Pasco County.

DeSantis didn’t give any explanation for projects he slashed for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Other health-related vetoes included:

  • Camp Boggy Creek children’s mental health sessions, $350,000
  • West Park mental health initiative, $150,000
  • Hispanic Unity of Florida’s Lifting Individuals from Postpartum Trauma, $500,000
  • Small Steps, Big Progress: Mental Health Dimensions of Wellness, $100,000
  • Miami-Dade County, Increasing Access to Opioid Treatment, $737,500
  • Big Bend Hospice Access to Rural Healthcare, mobile medical units, $250,000
  • Florida Safe Patient Movement Program, $850,000
  • Golden Beach wellness center, $300,000
  • Jackson Health System burn clinic, $100,000
  • TechHealth initiative for Orange County, $200,000
  • Webber International University Health Science Building, $250,000
  • Herzing University nursing lab and simulation center, $400,000

Health News Florida's Rick Mayer contributed to this report.