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Scott Wants More Cancer Centers

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Mary Shedden
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Cancer hospitals vying to earn National Cancer Institute designation would get $60 million next year under a budget proposal being released by Florida Gov. Rick Scott today.

Scott, who is running for a second term as governor, made Tampa’s Moffitt Cancer Center the final stop of his “It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget” tour on Tuesday. Flanked by dozens of researchers, university leaders and politicians, he said the $60 million proposal can help cancer centers invest in the research needed to earn the prestigious title.

Scott will announce his budget today in Tallahassee at a meeting of state news editors.

Moffitt, which is affiliated with the University of South Florida, is the only NCI-designated "Comprehensive Cancer Center" based in Florida and just one of 41 across the country. (Mayo Clinic, which is based in Minnesota but has a branch in Jacksonville, also has the designation.)

Scott, a former health care executive, knows the centers attract NIH grants and the nation’s top oncology researchers. In 2012, Moffitt won a $15 million NCI grant, based in part on the center’s increase in clinical trials and other research.  

Scott and State Surgeon General John Armstrong wouldn’t say which cancer centers in the state are even equipped to endure the arduous process of applying for NCI designation.

However, University of Florida president Bernie Machen and the chief medical officer from the University of Miami’s College of Medicine did speak at Tuesday’s announcement.

“We’ve been working diligently for designation…it does indeed take an investment to get us there,” said Jerry Goodwin, chief medical officer at Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Machen added that UF Health is building its cancer center presence, both in Gainesville and with its new partner, Orlando Health. That hospital system had previously been aligned with the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

In addition to the $60 million proposal, Scott also said his budget would include $20 million for biomedical cancer research, money identical to an amount included in the state’s 2013 budget. This Bankhead-Coley fund, an established source of money for cancer research, has fluctuated over the years. 

Mary Shedden is news director at WUSF.