Scott's team eyeing UF trustee Rosenberg as new health chief
With Dr. John Armstrong's confirmation as health secretary in deep trouble in the Senate, Gov. Rick Scott may need to find a replacement in a hurry, and the Times/Herald learned Thursday that Scott's top advisers have found their likely replacement.
He is Dr. Jason Rosenberg, a plastic surgeon in Gainesville who has received two high-profile appointments from the governor to the statewide Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding and to the board of trustees at his alma mater, the University of Florida.
Rosenberg holds three degrees from UF. Like Armstrong, he also has a military background. Here's his biography on the UF website.
The fact that Scott's advisers have identified a replacement is another sign of Armstrong's uncertain future in his dual roles as state surgeon general and secretary of the Department of Health.
Scott's office issued a statement Thursday afternoon reaffirming support for Armstrong. "We are confident that Dr. Armstrong will be confirmed by the Senate because he is overwhelmingly the best person for the job. Period," spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said.
If Armstrong is not confirmed, he would be out of a job the moment the 2016 session adjourns Sine Die, most likely on Friday, March 11.
Rosenberg is said to be the favorite of Scott's chief of staff, Melissa Sellers, and his general counsel, Tim Cerio. Rosenberg also is a friend and former UF classmate of Alan Levine, a former UF trustee who has the governor's ear on health matters. Levine served as secretary of the state Agency for Health Care Administration under former Gov. Jeb Bush and both he and Rosenberg served on Scott's health and human services transition team after Scott was first elected in 2010.
Scott has repeatedly predicted to Capitol reporters that Armstrong will win confirmation before the session ends, but he is one vote short of a majority in the 10-member Senate Ethics & Elections Committee. Senate President Andy Gardiner said Wednesday he may take the extraordinary step of pulling Armstrong out of that committee and letting the full 40-member Senate decide whether Armstrong will keep his $141,000 a year job.