« November 28, 2012 | Main | November 30, 2012 »

5 posts from November 29, 2012

November 29, 2012

Democrats bring fiscal cliff debate to Miami

Looks like campaign season isn't really over, even after Election Day.

Democrats, trying to put pressure on Congressional Republicans over a year-end deadline to decide on higher taxes and spending cuts, held a news conference in Miami on Thursday supporting President Obama's position to raise taxes on the wealthy.

From a press release:

Continue reading "Democrats bring fiscal cliff debate to Miami" »

CFO Jeff Atwater tells insurers to stop whining, reduce PIP premiums

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater said Thursday that it’s time for insurance companies to stop complaining and to lower premiums to reflect changes to the no-fault car insurance laws.

“I am comfortable that if assaults on the courts are unsuccessful and the bill can stand there will be more than 25 percent savings,” Atwater said. “We don’t have to gnash about it, argue about it, whine about it or cry about it.”

Under the old system, the average personal injury protection insurance claim is $12,900, Atwater said during a presentation at the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Insurance Summit. That included $4,400 in acupuncture, $3,700 for massage therapy, $3,200 to chiropractors and $1,600 for emergency room costs.

The new law, HB 119, restricts acupuncturists and massage therapists from participating in PIP and requires people injured in a car accident to be diagnosed with an emergency medical condition before they are eligible for the full $10,000 benefit.

“We just eliminated 68 percent of that cost,” Atwater told the group.

Read more here.

Citizens president floats more ideas to shrink company

Barry Gilway, president of Citizens Property Insurance Corp., continued to defend the beleaguered state-run insurer Thursday, while preparing to chart a path forward.

Speaking at the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Insurance Summit, Gilway defended the company’s employees and set out some ideas for improving--and shrinking--the state-run insurer in the coming year.

“One of the biggest surprises that I found when I joined Citizens is the quality of the staff,” said Gilway, who became president in June. “They don’t do it because they are the highest paid people in the marketplace.”

Gilway spent time praising the work of Citizens’ leaders in recent years and laying out plans for shrinking the size of the state-run company in the future.

He said that while some of the decisions made at Citizens have been “unpopular” and “controversial”—including reducing coverage and approving a generous $350 million loan program for private insurers—they will help improve the company.

“We tried to makes ourselves as unattractive as we possibly can,” he said, commenting on the company’s awkward business strategy.

Gov. Rick Scott has called on Citizens to significantly reduce its size and risk, leading to several unpopular changes for its policyholders. Premium hikes, coverage denials and unpopular reinspections are among the changes that have taken place this year alone.

Gilway indicated that more changes may be on the way to help shrink the insurer of 1.5 million.

Continue reading "Citizens president floats more ideas to shrink company" »

Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan to address Jack Kemp Foundation

Who came out better after the 2012 elections: Marco Rubio or Paul Ryan?

The Wisconsin congressman is just publicly emerging from his shellshock loss as part of Mitt Romney's failed presidential campaign.

But Ryan was picked over the Florida Senator for the VP slot, which gave the House budget chairman load of publicity. And just in time, too, he has to grapple with a DC-novela partly of his own making: the "fiscal cliff."

The two will address the foundation named after another one-time Republican vice-presidential candidate, Sen. Jack Kemp. Both Rubio and Ryan have cited Kemp as an influence.

From an email:

Continue reading "Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan to address Jack Kemp Foundation" »

Report: State could learn ethics lessons from counties

As Florida lawmakers consider beefing up the ethics laws that govern them, they could learn a few things from their counterparts at the county level, a new research report shows.

Florida State University’s LeRoy Collins Institute and Integrity Florida released the report, titled “Tough Choices: Florida Counties Bridge the Ethics Policy Gap,” to highlight some of the ethics ordinances in place at the local level.

 In many cases, county officials have tougher ethics laws than the ones on the books for state lawmakers.

 “This is what counties in Florida have been doing that really makes us proud,” said Dr. Carol Weissert, director of the LeRoy Collins Institute. “We actually are leading the nation in some of these county efforts. We’re also talking about a promising conversation that is going on at the state level.”

Weissert said many of the county-level reforms—including tough laws on campaign finance, gifts from lobbyists, ethics training and voting conflicts—were sparked by Florida’s infamous reputation for government corruption. Between 2000 and 2010, Florida led the nation in federal public corruption convictions, with many of the convictions at the county level.

Counties like Miami-Dade, Broward and Orange have taken steps to try to tamp down on the corruption, launching new ethics commissions and requiring ethics training for elected officials.

Dan Krassner, who advocates for stronger ethics laws as the director of Integrity Florida, said the report could provide some good ideas for the state Legislature, as it plans to do ethics reform next year.

“We’d encourage all county officials that have been involved at the local level to bring your ideas to Tallahassee,” he said. “Come before the Legislature and share your experiences of what’s working and what’s not at the local level.”

House Speaker Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel) and Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) have each expressed interest in making state government more ethical. The push comes at a time when there is a record amount of special interest money flooding into the political process.

See the full report here.