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Nelson urges Scott to veto insurance rate bill

by John Kennedy | May 22nd, 2013

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson urged Florida Gov. Rick Scott to veto legislation his fellow Republicans advanced that suspends for two years the state’s authority to set health insurance rates.

Nelson, a former state insurance commissioner, said in a Wednesday letter to Scott that allowing the bill (SB 1842) to become law would put consumers at risk of sky-high rate hikes.

“To eliminate the Florida insurance commissioner’s authority to turn down rate increases is unbelievable and unconscionable.”  Nelson wrote.

Nelson’s criticism echoes that raised during the session by legislative Democrats who said the legislation appeared designed to shield state regulators from any fallout stemming from the Affordable Care Act. Among them would be Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a Republican and former Senate president from North Palm Beach, whose office oversees the Office of Insurance Regulation.

Proponents of the legislation, however, said it is merely aimed at helping the state comply with evolving regulatory requirements under the federal health care overhaul.

Group or individual health plans in place in 2010 will still be subject to rate review by state regulators, under SB 1842. But the host of new coverage options expected to be created when the Affordable Care Act takes effect in January will have rates controlled by federal agencies, although Atwater’s office will still review the proposals.

When the proposal was advanced in the Legislature, Republicans insisted they were not trying to shift blame for any problems that could rise from the influx of coverage plans and new companies.

They said that since the federal government has been imposing so many new regulations on the state, it made sense that federal officials do the rate-setting.

“This is not changing the consumer tradition of this state,” Rep. John Wood, R-Winter Haven, said at a House hearing last month. “But it is giving us
flexibility to understand a changing landscape.”

Democrats have been angered by the Republican-ruled Legislature’s long reluctance to enact provisions of the Affordable Care Act. They also said the new measure will give consumers the runaround in dealing with any issue with health insurance rates.

“We can do better for consumers,” said Rep. Jose Rodriquez, D-Miami, said during the April hearing.

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act continue to criticize the Legislature’s move.

“Senate Bill 1842 brings bad news for Florida consumers in at least two distinct ways: it deregulates health insurance at the state level, putting consumers at risk; and, it sets up ACA to be blamed for Florida’s irresponsibility,” said the Jupiter-based health advocacy group, FloridaCHAIN.

Scott has until June 5 to act on the legislation.


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9 Responses to “Nelson urges Scott to veto insurance rate bill”

  1. Mark Says:

    Rick Scott is doing a fine job.
    Unemployment rate is Down!
    Housing is booming again!
    More new businesses coming to Florida!
    Passing new laws!
    Vote for Rick in 2014!!!

  2. Sandra Malone Says:

    I see no necessity to suspend FL Rate Approvals, although such approvals at this point are MOOT. We will have a Federal Exchange, which leaves FL with no overriding authority whatsoever to Federally set insurance rates within the Exchange. FL decided NOT to set up a FL run Exchange, and must now defer to the Feds whether they like it or not. What consumers will have are rates set and controlled by the Feds, and FL will have no recourse to change them either way. So, what’s the point in suspending or leaving it as is, although the State oversight will not really be active?

  3. Sandra Malone Says:

    The real problem with the Healthcare Law is that many of the large Insurers will not participate in the Exchanges. MANY Providers, doctors, hospitals, will NOT participate in the Exchanges, leaving only small insurers with very narrow networks to serve in an environment where we are already short thousands of physicians. If the Exchange puts you in Medicaid, how many doctors even accept Medicaid? So few, and many who graduated at the bottom of their class accept Medicaid. This problem will exist and explode whether or not Florida expands Medicaid. What about the “Navigators” within the Exchanges”, who, while they are “helping” the consumer, will get the consumers SS#, Dates of Birth, Employer, Income, and every other kind of private information you can imagine? According to Kathleen Sebellius these “Navigators” will not be required to have even a High School education, can be felons (no background checks), and only 20 to 30 hrs of Training. Gues who’s applying to be “Navigators”? Yep, felons and identity thieves. What an incredible setup to absolutely destroy individuals and families. Another problem is that every doctor & provider of any kind will be forced to electronically send every piece of everyone’s medical records to our trustworthy government, with the IRS (good lord) overseeing the whole debacle. If we have any privacy at all, it should be first with our Medical Records. This whole thing is set to blow up in Obama’s face, with only the sickest and poorest going to the Exchanges to get a subsidy. It’s an upside down pyramid that will collapse under it’s own weight.

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  5. Sandra Malone Says:

    Hi Diamond Hills Oakley, I appreciate the comment IF it was directed to me. I heard today that one Broker spoke with a top level BCBS official who said that in their State Exchange she wasn’t sure they would sell direct outside the Exchange, and that their Network within the Exchange would be greatly “pared down”. This will be a serious problem in every State or Federal Exchange.
    Sandra Malone

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