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DOH won’t lose programs to counties

Update: The House Appropriations Committee passed the amended bill 12 to 8 late in the day.

Protests by public-health experts, county commissions and consumers have defanged some of the legislative attack on the Department of Health.

Rep. Matt Hudson, sponsor of a bill on DOH reorganization, has filed an amendment taking out 400 lines that would have wiped out much of DOH’s authority and likely thousands of state jobs.

That amendment (see p. 395 of this document) says DOH will "make every attempt possible to solicit the support and involvement of private and not-for-profit health care agencies in fulfilling the public health mission.”

The bill (CS/HB 1263) is scheduled to come before the House Appropriations Committee this afternoon, and both DOH officials and consumer groups are planning to attend. The latter still want to see it die.

"Among other things, this very bad bill eviscerates prevention programs at DOH," said Richard Polangin, health director for Florida Public Interest Research Group (FPIRG). "Prevention programs are part of the core mission of public health."

Hudson could not be reached today to explain, but critics of the bill credit an outcry from counties' elected and appointed officials. They testified earlier that county staffs and budgets aren't up to taking over responsibility for health inspections and investigations now funded and supervised by the state.