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He’s baaack! Levine to head Scott team

By Jim Saunders
11/18/2010 © Health News Florida

Gov-elect Rick Scott might be a government outsider who got rich running private health-care companies.

But as he prepares to move into the governor's office, Scott has turned to a familiar Tallahassee figure --- former Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Alan Levine --- to lead his transition team on health and human-services programs..

Scott on Wednesday named 40 health-care and business people to work on transition issues for six health- and human-services agencies and to tackle the high-profile issue of overhauling Medicaid.

Levine, a senior vice president with the Health Management Associates hospital chain, served as AHCA secretary under former Gov. Jeb Bush and was a key architect of the Medicaid "reform'' pilot program, which requires most beneficiaries in five counties to enroll in managed-care plans.

Levine joined HMA this summer, after a stint as secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals. Just hours before Scott's announcement of the transition team, Levine testified at a legislative hearing in Tallahassee about Medicaid reform and further changes that lawmakers might make during the spring legislative session.

Among other things, Levine said he thinks changes are needed in the Low Income Pool program, which was part of Medicaid reform and distributes $1 billion a year to hospitals and other providers who serve low-income patients. Revamping the LIP program would likely touch off a political fight, as some hospitals try to guard the money and others contend the program is unfair.

In a news release, Scott's office said the transition team will "help him identify ways to reduce the size of government, lower health care costs, transform the delivery of health services and better meet the needs of those most vulnerable in the state.''

The transition team members range from hospital CEOs to a health-policy official with the libertarian Cato Institute. Included are Florida Medical Association President Madelyn Butler, Florida Board of Medicine member Jason Rosenberg and former Florida Health Care Association President Deborah Franklin.

Also included are Sybil Richard, a former AHCA official who worked with Levine in Louisiana and is now a Wal-Mart vice president; former Republican Rep. Juan Zapata of Miami; and former state director of aging and adult services Margaret Lynn Duggar.

Absent from the list are representatives of high-profile consumer groups. Here is a link to the news release and a list of transition-team members.

Capital Bureau Chief Jim Saunders can be reached at 850-228-0963 or by e-mail at