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DeSantis' 2024-25 budget gives a high priority to health care measures

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signed his $116.5 billion budget for fiscal 2024-25 on Wednesday in Tampa.
Facebook / Gov. Ron DeSantis
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signed his $116.5 billion budget for fiscal 2024-25 on Wednesday in Tampa.

The legislative session was highlighted by "Live Healthy" and other health projects. When the $116.5 billion budget was unveiled, it included big numbers for expectant moms, kids, mental health and cancer research.

 This year’s legislative session flew under the banner of “Live Healthy," the name given to four prioritized initiatives to help grow Florida’s health care workforce, increase access and incentivize innovation.

So, it’s no surprise that Gov. Ron DeSantis’ $116.5 billion budget for fiscal 2024-25, signed Wednesday in Tampa, weighed heavily in that direction.

It includes $456.5 million to support the health of pregnant women and children, $442 million for behavioral health services, $377.5 million for services provided to individuals with unique abilities and $232 million for cancer research.

But there were also several health-related programs among $950 million removed by line-item veto.

RELATED: DeSantis cuts $1B to bring budget to $116.5 billion

Here’s a brief overview of some of the big winners and losers in this year’s spending plan.

Nursing homes: Florida’s nursing centers are preparing for a recently approved federal mandate of 3.48 hours of direct care every day. In addition to the financial strain involved, there is an ongoing personnel shortage.

To assist, DeSantis has provided an 8 percent increase, to $247.8 million, in Medicaid funding to help nursing centers address the need for qualified caregivers, which the Florida Health Care Association called a “meaningful investment” to prepare “for a significant increase in Florida’s senior population over the next decade.”

The state is also providing $100 million for the Prepping Institutions, Programs, Employers and Learners though Incentive for Nursing Education (PIPELINE) to reward excellence in nursing education programs.

Another $30 million is for the Linking Industry to Nursing Education (LINE) fund to incentivize collaboration between nursing education programs and health care partners.

Health of women and children: The budget includes support for the Florida KidCare, improved access to obstetric care for expectant mothers and initiatives for children from birth to 36 months with developmental delay.

Florida KidCare administers the four government-sponsored children’s insurance programs, including Medicaid.

Behavioral health: The funds will improve access to mobile response services, increase rates for mental health providers, provide direct services, help to expand the behavioral health workforce, and support collaboration between primary care and behavioral health.

Cancer: DeSantis allocated $60 million, a 200 percent increase, for the Florida Cancer Innovation Fund, which supports cancer research. The budget also continues providing $127.5 million for the Casey DeSantis Cancer Research Program.

Opioids: The budget reflects a state priority to care and recovery for people with opioid misuse disorders. This includes more than $179.4 million from the nationwide opioid settlement agreement to for the Office of Opioid Recovery, an accredited graduate medical education program to increase the number of psychiatric residents and for other initiatives that support education, as well as treatment and prevention for individuals with substance use disorders.

In addition, $31.8 million from the settlement go to the state’s Coordinated Opioid Recovery (CORE) Network, which provides rescue response to support immediate treatment, stabilization, and assessment to determine the best course of treatment and long-term support.

Another $18 million is set for three programs to support law enforcement efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, including the illicit trafficking and sale of fentanyl.

Alzheimer’s disease:  The budget includes an increase of $6 million, for a recurring total of $69.1 million, to serve seniors as part of the Alzheimer’s Disease Initiative, which provides support for caregivers and individuals diagnosed or suspected of having Alzheimer's disease or other related memory disorders.

Also, $2 million in additional funding goes to the Florida Alzheimer’s Center of Excellence.

In addition, an increase of $11 million ($115 million total) is earmarked for the Community Care for the Elderly Program and the Home Care for the Elderly Program, which provide support for seniors at risk for out-of-home placement. Services include adult day care, respite for caregivers, home-delivered meals and minor home modifications.

Unique abilities: Included in the Live Healthy legislation was $38.4 million to support the enrollment of eligible individuals into a new voluntary pilot program that provides for the comprehensive services to individuals with disabilities via a managed care service delivery model. This also supplies $55.7 million to pre-enroll individuals and $64.8 million to enroll those in crisis. Overall, more than $2.2 billion will support iBudget waiver services through the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

Veterans: An additional $4.9 million will support equipment and capital improvements for the state veterans’ nursing homes. The budget also includes $10 million to assist with the construction of the ninth such home in Collier County upon federal grant approval.

Vetoes: The governor’s line-item veto took out a combined $5.5 million in funding for two nursing programs in Jacksonville as well as a total of about $10 million requested for opioid education programs by the Boys & Girls Clubs and the University of South Florida.

  • USF’s College of Nursing and College of Behavioral and Community Sciences sought $3.9 million for a joint project designed to lower opioid use statewide and assist counties to better plan for and respond to opioid overdoses that do occur.
  • The governor removed $6.4 million for a menstrual hygiene grant program that would have provided free pads and tampons for children in schools. Democratic state Rep. Anna Eskamani said she’s surprised by the veto as the pilot had overwhelming bipartisan support.
  • Florida Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs did not receive $4.6 million to increase opioid awareness and prevention, with an emphasis on prescription abuse. The money was to be split among locations throughout the state.
  • Florida State College at Jacksonville was denied $2.8 million for the “renovation, remodel, and expansion” of nursing program facilities and the Jacksonville University GROW Florida Nurses Program was denied $2.9 million for “workforce development” focused on psychiatric, rehabilitative and palliative care.
  • Two Ronald McDonald House projects were omitted from the final budget. The charity accommodates families with hospitalized children being treated at nearby medical facilities. One sought $1 million to build a house at the Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, and the other $1 million to assist with demolition of existing space and construction as part of the St. Joseph’s Hospital expansion in Tampa.


I’m the online producer for Health News Florida, a collaboration of public radio stations and NPR that delivers news about health care issues.