Former Florida Rep. Paul Grant Rogers Dies at 87

Posted October 15, 2008 at 6:05pm

Paul Grant Rogers, a former Democratic Congressman from South Florida, died of lung cancer in Washington on Monday. He was 87.

Rogers served in the House from 1955 through 1978 and was best known for his work on health care issues. A nonsmoker known as “Mr. Health,” Rogers served as chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health and the Environment for eight years. He was a guiding hand for legislation including the National Cancer Act of 1971; Heart, Blood Vessel, Lung and Blood Act; Research on Aging Act; Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970; Medical Device Amendments of 1976; Emergency Medical Services Act; Health Maintenance Organization Act; Clean Air Act; Safe Drinking Water Act; Radiation Health Safety Act; Medicare-Medicaid Anti-Fraud and Abuse Amendments of 1977; and the Sea Grant College Act.

“I saw the potential for what could be done in the health care field, and it just was not being aggressively pursued,” Rogers told the Palm Beach Post of his time in Congress during a 1979 interview. “We were not looking ahead and planning.”

Rogers left Congress voluntarily in 1979, having groomed a successor in his assistant, Daniel Mica. Mica represented the district for 10 years and is now the president of the Credit Union National Association.

Following his retirement from Congress, Rogers joined the Washington law firm Hogan & Hartson as a partner in its health care practice and continued to promote medical research. He occasionally testified about its benefits at Congressional hearings on behalf of the National Institutes of Health, and a prominent space at the NIH was named the Paul G. Rogers Plaza in 2000.

Rogers was born in Ocilla, Ga., on June 4, 1921, and moved to Florida with his family when he was 4. He completed his undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Florida. Between earning the two degrees, he served with the U.S. Army in Europe from 1942 to 1946. His father, Dwight Rogers, a member of the Florida House since 1930, was elected to the U.S. House in 1945 and served until his death in 1954. Paul Rogers was elected to take his place.

Rogers’ wife, Rebecca, his daughter, Laing, and four grandchildren survive him.

A visitation will be held 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 19 at Joseph Gawler’s Sons Funeral Directors at 5130 Wisconsin Ave. NW, while the funeral service will be held 11 a.m. on Oct. 20 at the National Cathedral.