Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) Secretary Simone Marstiller will step down from her job, the first departure during what could be a busy transition for newly re-elected Gov. Ron DeSantis.
DeSantis announced in a Monday tweet that Marstiller was leaving his administration. He said that Marstiller “led the way by driving transparency & accountability in health care, fighting for patients’ rights & standing against vax mandates. She demonstrated an unwavering commitment to Floridians — I thank her for her service & wish her the best in retirement.”
Many top officials routinely leave state government and join prominent lobbying and legal firms in Tallahassee, where they have been able to lobby the Legislature immediately. But that will no longer be allowed at the end of the year. Marstiller’s departure comes weeks before the new lobbying ban is to take effect.
.@AHCA_FL Sec. @SMarstiller led the way by driving transparency & accountability in health care, fighting for patients' rights & standing against vax mandates. She demonstrated an unwavering commitment to Floridians – I thank her for her service & wish her the best in retirement.
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) November 21, 2022
Marstiller tweeted in response. “It has been a privilege and a blessing to work with you on such criticality important issues. May God continue to order your steps as you lead the great FREE state of Florida.”
Thank you, Governor! It has been a privilege and a blessing to work with you on such criticality important issues. May God continue to order your steps as you lead the great FREE state of Florida.
— Simone Marstiller (@SMarstiller) November 21, 2022
Marstiller submitted her resignation letter to the governor Nov. 9. Her resignation takes effect Dec. 30.
“In faith, I step now into a new chapter in my personal and professional life not knowing what comes next but knowing it is the right time and I am confident I will be able to use all I have done and learned in continued service to my fellow man,” she wrote in the resignation letter.
Marstiller was appointed AHCA Secretary in February 2021, and before that had been in charge of the Department of Juvenile Justice. Marstiller, who once was an appeals court judge, had spent several years with the Gunster firm law firm where, in 2018, she registered to lobby the executive branch on behalf of Associated Industries of Florida.
Marstiller replaced Acting Secretary Shevaun Harris, who had been named to lead the agency after Mary Mayhew resigned to head the Florida Hospital Association. Harris was subsequently moved from AHCA and named Secretary of the Department of Children and Families.
Florida voters first approved a six-year lobbying ban back in 2018 and called for it to kick it at the end of this year. During the 2022 Regular Session, state legislators passed a law that made it clear what executive branch officials were covered by the ban and created penalties for someone found violating the new ban.
Current law only requires top state officials to wait two years before they can lobby their former employer. The new ban also contains a much wider prohibition on lobbying, so that former agency heads are not only blocked from lobbying their former employer but are also banned from lobbying the Legislature.
AHCA houses the state’s Medicaid program and also is the agency charged with regulating health care facilities, from abortion clinics to nursing homes to hospitals.
DeSantis announced last week on social media that state Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo would continue to be part of the administration as DeSantis starts his second term as Governor.