Budget conference: Legislators to let Mayo Clinic participate in Casey DeSantis Cancer Research Program
Sam Garrison .

The agreement also adds $27.5M in recurring funds to the program and gives DOH $500K to study a future expansion.

Legislators have agreed to increase funding for the Casey DeSantis Cancer Research Program, as well as increase the number of academic cancer centers that can qualify.

During budget negotiations, legislators agreed to add an additional $27.5 million in recurring general revenue for the Casey DeSantis Cancer Research Program. That means it will have $127.5 million in recurring funds in the Fiscal Year 2023-24 budget.

Moreover, lawmakers agreed to sign off on a conforming bill (HB 5303) that, among other things, eliminates the requirement that an academic cancer center be based in Florida in order to participate in the program. The change allows Mayo Clinic, which is based in Rochester, Minnesota, to participate. House Speaker Paul Renner and Rep. Sam Garrison championed the change.

To date, only three Florida-based cancer centers have access to the money: the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Moffitt Cancer Center and the University of Florida (UF) Health Cancer Center.

Legislators did not, though, agree to increase the amount of Casey DeSantis Cancer Research Program funding available for UF Health Cancer Center.

UF Health Cancer will be designated a National Cancer Institute (NCI) cancer center June 30, according to an email sent to the university. Given that, the Senate made a move to increase the university’s share of cancer funds to reflect the designation.

But the House didn’t approve the move.

Also included in the budget agreement is $500,000 for the Department of Health (DOH) to produce a long-range comprehensive plan on the Casey DeSantis Cancer Research Program. Budget proviso requires the Department to produce a plan that examines an expansion of the research programs to include a broader pool of Florida-based cancer centers, research institutions, biomedical education institutions, hospitals and medical providers.

The DOH also must include in the long-range plan an academic collaborative that integrates research institutions and medical schools into the Casey DeSantis Cancer Research Program to expand its geographic reach into underserved areas of the state.

In an attempt to enhance the quality of cancer care in Florida, the Legislature in 2014 created the Florida Consortium of National Cancer Institute Centers Program. The Legislature in 2022 directed another $37 million to the program and renamed it the Casey DeSantis Cancer Research Program after the First Lady, who was successfully treated for breast cancer.

The intent was to help enhance the quality and competitiveness of cancer care in Florida, further a statewide biomedical research strategy directly responsive to the health needs of Florida’s citizens and capitalize on potential educational opportunities available to students.

The amount of funding the centers can qualify for is based on their NCI designation level. There are three tranches. UF, which technically isn’t an NCI designated cancer center, currently is in tier 3, the lowest tranche. The Senate wanted to move it from tier 3 tranche to the tier 2 tranche.

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


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