Corcoran health care success a mixed bag

Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, delivers his opening remarks to his fellow memebers on the first day of legislative session, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)
Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, delivers his opening remarks to his fellow memebers on the first day of legislative session, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) (Associated Press)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Before becoming House speaker, Richard Corcoran promised in 2015 that he was going to tackle the “Gucci-loafing, shoe-wearing special interest powers” that lobby in Tallahassee and protect the status quo.

But a look back at Corcoran’s track record as speaker during the past two sessions shows that the Land O’ Lakes Republican, who is known for his political acumen and ability to steer legislation through the process, didn't always come out on top with his health-care agenda.

Corcoran passed one of three health-care priorities this session, a bill (HB 37) that would allow patients and physicians to enter into “direct primary care” agreements. Two other priorities --- HB 23, which would have allowed patients to stay overnight at ambulatory surgical centers and established “recovery care” centers, and HB 27, which would have eliminated Florida’s  “certificate of need” regulatory program for hospitals --- failed to get through the Senate.

“With his tenure of service in the House and the great reputation Mr. Corcoran has, one would think that any issue that he’s been supportive of would certainly pass during the legislative session,” said David Shapiro, a physician, board member of the Florida Society of Ambulatory Surgical Centers and a proponent of the ambulatory surgical-center bill.

“So I’m an outside observer of the legislative process, but as disappointed I am it didn’t pass, there’s also an element of surprise,” he said.

For political insider Mike Fasano, the Pasco County tax collector who served in the House and Senate, it’s a whole lot less surprising.

“It’s very difficult to achieve what you really want to achieve in two or four years,” said Fasano, who met Corcoran in the 1980s when the speaker was starting the Young Republicans of Pasco County.

And If a lawmaker has future political aspirations, Fasano said, it becomes even more challenging.