Since Moffitt’s statutory creation by the Florida Legislature in 1981, Government Relations has played a critical role in the growth and success of Moffitt Cancer Center.
Our team advocates for increased funding for research and education. Moffitt trains more oncology professionals than all other Florida institutes combined. Additionally, Moffitt’s Government Relations team supports policy to help end the burden of cancer and improve patient outcomes. While our efforts are focused on sustaining the robustness of Moffitt Cancer Center, the outcome leads to a healthier Florida.
The Florida Legislature faced uncertainty this year regarding two overwhelming tasks: passing a balanced budget, while creating a new model of distributing budget resources to provide healthcare for low income Floridians; a funding source known as Low Income Pool (LIP).
Previously, Moffitt Cancer Center received $20 million in LIP funding. The Legislature’s final compromise was the formation of a new LIP model that adversely affected most hospitals in the state. Moffitt's reduction for Fiscal Year 15/16 is $1.5 million. As a means of mitigating a portion of this loss, Moffitt was added to a specialty hospital category, which will establish a more stable and consistent reimbursement structure for the cancer center when treating Medicaid patients.
For the past several years, Moffitt Cancer Center has received $2 million in nonrecurring funds, in addition to our $10.6 million base level education funding. The reduction of federal dollars to support LIP created a domino effect that touched nearly every other aspect of the state budget. Unfortunately, the nonrecurring dollars fell victim to this situation. Prior to the legislative session, the possibility of reductions prompted our finance team to take action. Institutionally, we prepared for the worst and, fortunately, fared better than we feared.
In spite of these financial setbacks, the Legislature did prioritize funding initiatives that directly impact the robust growth of the state’s cancer centers, continued biomedical research, and patient access to cancer screenings and treatment. The Florida Consortium of National Cancer Institute Centers Program received complete appropriations of $60 million. The Biomedical Research Trust Funds were fully funded, ensuring $10 million each for the James and Esther King and Bankhead-Coley Research Programs.
Unlike ordinary years, the Legislature will begin convening again for committee weeks in September; in preparation for the 2016 legislative session, which begins in January. Moffitt’s Government Relations efforts will be ramping up again in the coming weeks to ensure success in the coming year.
Jamie Wilson serves as Vice President of Government Relations for Moffitt Cancer Center. His responsibilities include both state and federal government relations.
A founding member of Liberty Partners of Florida, LLC, a governmental and political consulting company located in Tallahassee, Fla., Mr. Wilson spent seven years specializing in business representation before state government, as well as client issues in many Florida cities and Washington, D.C. He previously served as Vice President at Dutko Poole McKinley, a Tallahassee firm he joined shortly after the inauguration of President George W. Bush in 2001.
During the 2000 election cycle, Mr. Wilson served as the Executive Director of the Republican Party of Florida, one of the largest state party organizations in the country. He was responsible for the strategic vision and the day-to-day operations of the party.
Prior to his work with the Republican Party of Florida, he spent 11 years as a top aide to former United States Senator Connie Mack, R-Florida.
Mr. Wilson received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Florida and a Master of Science degree from Florida State University
Merritt Martin serves as the State Legislative Affairs Director for Moffitt Cancer Center. Her responsibilities include both advocating for Moffitt and cancer patients before the State Legislature.
Prior to her role at Moffitt, Ms. Martin worked for the Florida House of Representatives as a legislative aide for State Representative Bill Heller. She also managed his successful reelection campaign in 2008.
During the 2006 elections, Ms. Martin served as the Finance Director for a constitutional amendment campaign which ensured funding for youth tobacco prevention. She also spent several years as the Advocacy Director for the American Cancer Society.
Ms. Martin received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a Masters of Public of Administration from the University of South Florida.
John DeMuro is the Federal Legislative Affairs Director for Moffitt Cancer Center. He represents Moffitt on a range of federal policy issues that affect cancer treatment and research. This includes advocacy for increased funding for cancer research and as well as policies promoting access to cancer care through private and government-sponsored health insurance programs.
John has lobbied successfully for tens of millions of dollars in federal appropriations for cancer programs at Moffitt and has been active at the national level in advocacy for federal support of biomedical research.
John serves as Chairman of the Legislative Committee of the Alliance of Dedicated Cancer Centers as well as Chairman of the Government Relations Work Group of the Oncology Research Information Exchange Network.
John was instrumental in the creation of Speak Out for Moffitt - a 5,000-member grassroots coalition of Florida citizens who support Moffitt’s cancer programs, and has spearheaded several successful advocacy campaigns including the annual Moffitt Day event at the Florida State Capitol.
Prior to joining Moffitt Cancer Center, John worked to build government and private support for Habitat for Humanity and other non-profit groups before serving as a community development consultant to local and state governments in New York and New Jersey.