TALLAHASSEE (CBS4) -House and Senate negotiators were divided Thursday morning about a proposal to cut $50 million from cancer-research programs, with a House leader arguing the money needed to be diverted to the deficit-plagued Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

“Given the choice between doing research or taking care of our most-vulnerable citizens, I decided to take care of our most-vulnerable citizens,’’ said House Health Care Appropriations Chairman Matt Hudson, R-Naples.

But the House’s proposed cut has particularly drawn objections from Tampa-area lawmakers, who are looking to protect funding for the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, according to the News Service of Florida.

Sen. Jim Norman, a Tampa Republican who is a Senate negotiator on health and human-services issues, urged that the cut be eliminated.

Though not from Tampa, Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, also stressed the importance of funding programs such as Moffitt.

The money has been distributed in the past through the James and Esther King Biomedical Research Program and the Bankhead-Coley Cancer Research Program.

“I believe we have a mandate to eradicate cancer in this state,’’ Sobel said.

Even if negotiators find money to avoid the cuts, another debate is simmering about how the funds should be distributed.

The Senate proposes earmarking $10 million of the total for Moffitt, $10 million for the Shands Cancer Hospital and $10 million for the Sylvester Cancer Center at the University of Miami. But some groups want a more-competitive grant process. That could lead to more money going to researchers at facilities such as the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville and the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Orlando.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.  The News Service of Florida contributed material for this report)


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