A bill that would send millions of additional dollars each year to Moffitt Cancer Center glided through its first committee Wednesday morning.
The proposal, SB 866, sponsored by Clearwater Republican Sen. Ed Hooper, passed unanimously in the Senate Health Policy Committee. The legislation would increase the Tampa center’s share of a state cigarette tax.
“As you may or may not know it has the second highest cancer burden in America, and no place in the state responds like Moffitt Cancer Center,” Hooper said at the meeting. “The demand for cancer care increases every year, and Moffitt currently serves more than 68,000 individual patients annually and that number is expected to surpass 100,000 annually by 2026.”
Under the current system, Moffitt is estimated to receive $15.6 million a year. The bill would increases Moffitt’s share of the cigarette tax from 4.4% to 7% for the next three years, and 10% after that, Hooper said. The money would otherwise go to the state’s general revenue fund.
“Here is a world class facility, and the funding we’re giving this is paid for by those that we’re eventually going to treat,” Hooper said.
If passed, the increase would lead the center to receive an estimated $26.9 million next fiscal year and $38.4 million in the 2024-2025 fiscal year.
Moffitt is the state’s only National Cancer Institute designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. The bill received kind words from Tampa Sen. Janet Cruz.
“I’ll say it again, but you know Moffitt Cancer Center is one of the few fights that I’m willing to engage in here in the legislature and, you know, I really do believe that Moffitt is an unsung hero,” Cruz said. “We need to show more love to Moffitt Cancer Center. It is a world class facility and I’m very proud that it’s in our town.”
At the meeting, Hooper said Moffitt intends to grow and expand, and that it plans to build a comprehensive cancer research and treatment center on 800 acres it recently acquired.