Could a longtime ally of Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis soon be running the state program that offers subsidized health insurance to low-income children?
Ryan West is one of three candidates being considered for the CEO position at Florida Healthy Kids, a comprehensive health-insurance program for Florida children ages five to 18. Others interviewed for the position include former Department of Health executive Krista Wiggins and Robert Reinshuttle.
The Florida Healthy Kids program is administered by the Florida Healthy Kids Corp., which is chaired by Stephanie Haridopolos. Haridopolos, a physician, told The News Service of Florida on Thursday that the corporation’s three-member executive committee, which she also chairs, interviewed the candidates in Tallahassee and subsequently ranked them in order of appeal.
Haridopolos said the rankings were handed over to FHK Corp.’s general counsel, who will ultimately turn the results over to her. The candidate who received the highest marks from the executive committee will be invited to the Florida Healthy Kids Board of Directors meeting March 26 in Orlando.
Florida Healthy Kids Corp. didn’t immediately respond to the News Service’s request for the candidates’ resumes.
But it appears that West’s background isn’t in health care. He has been a Florida House policy chief dealing with tourism and economic development, as well as a policy director and lead lobbyist for the Florida Chamber of Commerce. He also served as a top adviser to Patronis when Patronis was a member of the Florida Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities. He was chief of staff for Patronis from mid-2017 to the end of last year.
West’s name has also surfaced in the controversy over former state banking regulator Ronald Rubin, who was fired amid allegations he misused his office and subjected women to sexual harassment. Rubin last June submitted an 11-page statement to a state inspector general alleging he was told by West to hire an unqualified applicant to be his general counsel. Rubin has alleged one of the reasons he was fired is because he did not go along with the hiring.
West’s resignation from the CFO’s office came after POLITICO Florida began asking questions about a business he had launched with a lobbyist and onetime top aide to former Gov. Rick Scott. West in September teamed up with Jeff Woodburn to pursue liquor licenses. The new venture applied for licenses, but West ultimately withdrew from the partnership. And when Patronis was asked about the arrangement, he told the news outlet that West was leaving his job by the end of 2019.
Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.