Moffitt Cancer Center VP of government affairs Jamie Wilson (right) asked Jim Engelmann & the other North Tampa Bay Chamber members in attendance at the NTBC’s Sept. 26 Economic Development Briefing for their support of Moffitt’s efforts to receive more funding the state’s cigarette tax revenue.
The Moffitt Cancer Center, which recently forged a new partnership with Advent Health Wesley Chapel, could be making an even bigger footprint in Pasco County, with talk of a massive research center at the intersection of S.R. 52 and the Suncoast Pkwy.
But to do so, Moffitt will need money.
Jamie Wilson, the vice president of government affairs for Moffitt, spoke to local business leaders at the North Tampa Bay Chamber (NTBC)’s Economic Development Briefing at Hunter’s Green Country Club on Sept. 26.
Wilson’s presentation is part of a more aggressive effort by Moffitt to convince the state legislature to raise the cancer center’s share of Florida’s annual cigarette tax.
“We have grown from a small cancer hospital with 409 employees in 1986 to 2019, where we now have 6,500 employees serving more than 68,000 patients a year,” Wilson said. “The demand continues to grow. We’re asking our legislature to partner with us again, and groups like this Chamber to support our (request).”
Wilson told the NTBC members in attendance that Moffitt, as the state’s only Comprehensive Cancer Center, is asking to increase its share of the cigarette tax from 4.04 percent this year to 7 percent next year and 10 percent in 2023. Each increase would produce an additional $11 million in annual revenue.
The existing Moffitt Cancer Center on the University of South Florida (USF)’s Tampa campus off Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. and E. Fowler Ave., is 33 years old, and Wilson said there is no space available for growth in cancer research or treatment there. He said there were 130,000 people diagnosed with cancer last year in the state of Florida — and that number is expected to continue to grow.
“There is more and more demand every year,” he said. “We are seeking additional assistance from the cigarette tax so we can accommodate that growth by building new, state-of-the-art treatment and research facilities.”
The additional revenue would be used to expand Moffitt’s local footprint. That likely would include a new hospital on McKinley Dr. (aka N. 40th St.) in Tampa, about a mile from the existing hospital on the USF campus, and potentially, a new research campus in Pasco County, which has already approved the zoning and land-use changes for the massive proposed development near the Suncoast Pkwy. that also could include homes, hotels and other commercial enterprises.
Wilson said that a facility such as that would be a huge boon for Pasco County, as it would bring thousands of high-paying jobs to the area as well.
“I think we all know or have been touched by someone dealing with cancer,” said District 2 County Commissioner Mike Moore. “I think something like that would be great for Pasco County, but I think the good it would do for everyone, here and around the world, would be tremendous.”
Moffitt already has a new and innovative partnership with AdventHealth, which was announced earlier this year.
Back in May, AdventHealth Wesley Chapel (AHWC) and Moffitt broke ground on a new $44-million outpatient center to treat cancer patients from a new medical office building on the AHWC campus.
The three-story, 100,000-sq.-ft. medical office on the hospital’s campus will fill a pressing need for cancer treatment here. The outpatient center will offer medical and radiation oncology services and will be designed to accommodate oncologists to deliver chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiation therapy to patients. It is expected to open next fall.
Moffitt and AdventHealth also teamed up recently to bring early-phase clinical trials for patients who have run out of other treatment options to AdventHealth Celebration near Orlando.
It is that kind of forward-thinking that Wilson said proves Moffitt has been worth every penny it has received from the cigarette tax, and an increase would help it do more.
“I think the return on investment has been great,” he said, adding later, “Moffitt is doing some pretty great stuff.”