DOH Plan Would Cut 1,600 Jobs

By: Jim Saunders, Health News Florida
By: Jim Saunders, Health News Florida


Under fire from lawmakers, the Florida Department of Health has proposed a sweeping plan to reorganize --- and shrink -- its operations. Among other things, it would move the state out of the primary-care business.

The recommendations, released in a 154-page report late Tuesday, call for cutting 1,608 department jobs and consolidating dozens of divisions and bureaus. One of the proposals would buck the powerful doctors' lobby by lifting a requirement that the department secretary be a physician.

The reorganization would lead to many department duties being shifted to other state agencies, privatized or eliminated altogether.

In one major change, the report calls for the state to stop paying for primary-care services at county health departments. The proposal would save about $22.3 million and comes as some state officials want to rely more on federally qualified health centers to provide primary care.

In another big change, the report calls for contracting with a private company to run at least part of the Children's Medical Services program. CMS serves children who have a variety of serious medical conditions.

State lawmakers last year required the department to conduct a review of its operations and come up with recommendations for possible changes. House leaders, in particular, have been highly critical of the department, contending that it is unfocused and has taken on too many roles over the years.

While the department worked on the recommendations, new Gov. Rick Scott's transition team also issued a blistering appraisal of the agency. Some transition team recommendations --- such as moving away from primary care and allowing a non-physician to serve as department secretary --- are evident in the report.

But many public-health advocates have worried that changes in the department would go too far. As an example, they expressed repeated concerns last year that changes would gut prevention and education programs.

The report calls for making major changes in the department's organizational chart, going from 11 divisions to six and 50 bureaus to 18. Programs would be moved around to fit under the new framework.

Also, many programs would be moved to other state agencies, including the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Agency for Health Care Administration.

Other programs would be farmed out to private contractors or see their funding disappear. Many of the programs targeted for elimination serve only specific geographic areas of the state.

But some cuts would have broader reach, such as the proposed elimination of $4.8 million for the Area Health Education Centers Network, which is involved in anti-smoking programs. The report says the so-called AHECs could pursue other sources of money.

In all, the report calls for eliminating 1,608 department jobs, though at least 180 would shift to other state agencies. It was not immediately clear how many of the targeted jobs might be vacant.

Lawmakers required the department to submit the report by Tuesday, a week before the start of the 2011 legislative session. That would provide time for the Legislature to consider changes this year.

Scott's transition team went further than the report's recommendations and called for a merger of the department with the Agency for Health Care Administration. Scott administration officials have said the idea is still being considered, though lawmakers have not publicly taken it up.

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  • by jennifer Location: havana on Mar 8, 2011 at 04:44 PM
    @sheila, I agree with you wholeheartedly. Start cutting the salaries of those at the top who are overpaid to begin with. However, they should also take a look at the positions where the employee isn't worth a bag of peanuts when it comes to completing their work assignments. They are only there to collect a pay check, and think they deserve it. My office has 28 employees. We could afford to get rid of at least five of them and still run efficiently. These are the employees who show up late, leave early, take extra long lunches, and call in sick frequently. The other employees end up doing their work anyway, whether they are there or not. And, when they just happen to be in the office, they are usually texting/talking on their cell phone or walking around the office vising their friends. But, they do have job security because they are a friend or relative, or friend of a relative, of the supervisor.
  • by Public Healthcare is needed on Mar 8, 2011 at 12:46 AM
    I have read many of the comments posted here. Some of you have made very valid points. But let me give you my point of view about the cuts that may come to DOH. I was a state worker for 12 years, a taxpayer and a homeowner. But one day I was diagnosed with a chronic illness that got worse over time. I tried to work a less demanding job but I eventually reached the point where I could no longer work. I had no job and no health insurance. The only place I could go to receive any treatment was a public health clinic. If the clinic wasn't there I would be dead right now instead of posting a comment. I am writing this because you never know what journey your life may take so you should have compassion for others who have less and need the public health system. Who knows someday you may be one of those people sitting in the waiting room in the middle of the day. I never thought I would be sitting there either.
  • by shelia Location: tallahassee on Mar 7, 2011 at 09:20 AM
    I think all the cuts should start at the top. All those positions making $100,000 plus should be considered. Laying off positions making less than $50,000.00 a years is not the answer. Cutting the head could save the state so much more. Oh don't forget to look for unneeded positions. There are lots of those.
  • by airborne on Mar 5, 2011 at 03:29 PM
    Hopefully they state lays off the DOH employee that came into our business and proudly said "I don't have to pay a dime, I work for DOH!" Typical government employee entitlement welfare queen.
  • by Amy R Location: Tallahassee, FL on Mar 5, 2011 at 09:16 AM
    @Julie I know that this is the Consumer Services and Compliance Management Unit within Medical Quality Assurance. Lucy Gee is the director. You are absolutely correct. By the way the glorified recp. makes $47,000 a year and sleeps all day. Start at the top in these units and you will be able to get the work done. Oh donbt forget to get rid of Lucy G. first. She is the biggest problem.
  • by GV Location: Ga on Mar 4, 2011 at 10:54 AM
    Henry,why don't YOU worry about what YOU want to worry about and I will worry about what I want to worry about?
  • by Anonymous on Mar 4, 2011 at 09:16 AM
    Unemployment is raising. The govenor is laying people off. It is a lie that they are doing this in an effort to get more people working. You guys can't still posibly believe he is has any intention of doing that. He is destroying jobs. We need to keep that jobs we got, not do away with them.
  • by leon Location: Tallahassee on Mar 4, 2011 at 09:11 AM
    Good news. Rick Scott *wants* YOU!
  • by True Location: True on Mar 4, 2011 at 08:28 AM
    Leon county taxpayer @ 9:26 a.m.. I must agree, I wish not to take of the lazy and illegals. However, heard of KidCare? what is that program? who does it cover? funding? Also, your Institutional Care Program (nursing home), what is that program? who does it cover? funding? I posed the questions, because all the programs are consider Public Assistance (WELFARE). So, please before you cut people down, find out the facts.
  • by airborne on Mar 4, 2011 at 07:27 AM
    I think "ya'll" are just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
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