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.
Laura Lenhart serves as the Public Affairs Strategist for Moffitt Cancer Center. Her responsibilities include administering the Government Relations department’s social media, facilitating the grassroots management and continued growth of Speak Out for Moffitt, and advocating for the Cancer Center before the State Legislature.
Prior to her role at Moffitt, Ms. Lenhart worked for the Florida Chamber of Commerce as the governmental affairs coordinator. Ms. Lenhart actually began her career with Moffitt in 2010 as a government relations contractor and coordinator of “CCRAB” Florida’s Cancer Control and Research Advisory Council, which is statutorily housed within Moffitt.
Ms. Lenhart received both her Bachelor of Science Degree and Master of Science degree in Political Science from Florida State University.
John DeMuro serves as 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, as well as monitoring the provisions of the Affordable Care Act and any other legislation affecting Medicare or other means through which people get access to cancer care.
Beginning in 2016, he will serve a two-year term as Legislative Committee Chair of the Alliance of Dedicated Cancer Centers and he serves on the Government Relations Officers Network of the American Hospital Association.
Prior to joining Moffitt Cancer Center, Mr. DeMuro worked to build government and public 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.
Mr. DeMuro received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Literature from the University of Virginia.