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14 posts from September 11, 2013

September 11, 2013

Report: Thousands of Citizens policies held by out-of-staters homeowners

When Citizens Property Insurance sends out its monthly customer bills, only 31 percent of them go to the same house that is insured.

The rest go to other mailboxes in Florida — and around the globe, according to data analyzed by the American Consumer Institute of Citizen Research.

More than 19,000 bills go to people who live in Canada, nearly 27,000 go to New Yorkers, almost 12,000 go to folks in New Jersey and hundreds more go to England, Germany and France.

From Singapore and China, to South Africa and Luxembourg, Florida’s state-run insurance company is providing subsidized insurance coverage to 22,775 property owners who reside abroad. Another 176,465 policies go to homeowners with primary addresses in other states, the study found. Story here. 

At least 1 million of the nearly 1.3 million monthly bills for homeowners policies stay in Florida, but that includes an estimated 500,000 policies that go to addresses different from the property that is insured.

As Florida grapples with how to lower the cost of homeowners insurance along its hurricane alley, the out-of-state subsidies are a luxury it cannot afford, said Steve Pociask, president of the Washington, D.C.-based think tank that reviewed Citizens’ billing lists.

“It all comes down to affordability,’’ he said. “People who live here and have their primary homes insured here are teachers, police, service workers and they are being stung by higher prices. while 27,000 people who have their bills sent to New York are getting subsidized insurance. Why do we want to subsidize these folks?’’

The inequities are enough to prompt Sen. David Simmons, the chairman of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee to draft legislation to require that out-of-state policyholders whose second homes or vacation are insured by Citizens no longer receive subsidized rates.

Continue reading "Report: Thousands of Citizens policies held by out-of-staters homeowners" »

As check arrives from Rouson, Democrats schedule his day of reckoning

It’s not in the format that the Florida Democratic Party could use, but the $147,000 from Rep. Darryl Rouson’s closed committee arrived at Tallahassee headquarters Wednesday.

“It’s a certified check and it has to be a bank check,” said Florida House Minority Leader Perry Thurston, D-Plantation, late Wednesday. “I don’t think it’s a major issue and I believe it’s being handled.”

Last week, Thurston and other party leaders told Rouson to close his Florida House Democratic Caucus Affiliated Party Committee, which he opened in August to finance races for House Democrats in his role as incoming Minority Leader.

But it took until Monday for the committee to be closed and until Wednesday for the money collected from donors to arrive at party headquarters, which miffed leaders like Thurston already steamed that Rouson was operating a fundraising committee without telling them.

“We aren’t happy with the delay of what we suggested,” Thurston said.

 

Continue reading "As check arrives from Rouson, Democrats schedule his day of reckoning" »

Liberal group: FL health boss C. Meade Grigg is "cruel...incompetent" for Obamacare blocking

Americans United for Change, a liberal advocacy group, singled out a senior Florida Department of Health official today for asking county health departments to block federal advisers from helping people receive Obamacare services. The background is here, the statement is here:

C. Meade Grigg, the deputy Florida Department of Health secretary for statewide services, must be sick of his job because clearly he has no interest in doing it anymore.  According to the FL DOH website, its Mission is to ‘protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida,’ its Vision is to ‘be the Healthiest State in the Nation’.  Mr. Grigg needs to explain how that mission was not entirely compromised when he banished from FL health department premises the people who have been tapped by the federal government to help uninsured Floridians navigate the new health law and the benefits available to them.  Among the groups that for no good reason Griggs has deemed outcasts: the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, Mental Health America and the National Hispanic Council on Aging.  Grigg should know better than most that thousands of people die every year because they didn’t have insurance, so why is he standing in the way of Floridians enrolling in a plan?  Retired Pasco County Health Director Dr. Marc Yacht is absolutely right: Grigg’s actions are ‘cruel and irresponsible.’  I would add incompetent.”

Scott's Voter Purge Part II hits the road in October

Let the purge begin again.

Gov. Rick Scott promised that he would once again hunt for non-citizens on state voter rolls, and on Wednesday afternoon, his top elections officials released public details about taking the first steps toward another pruning effort.

Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced in a statement that he would begin a roundtable discussion with the state’s 67 supervisor of elections in a series of five public meetings across the state in October. (Sorry Tampa Bay and Miami-Dade, the closest meetings are in Sarasota and Ft. Lauderdale.)

Called “Project Integrity”, the meetings will be an opportunity for Detzner to hear from supervisors about how to conduct another purge.

“I am embarking on the Project Integrity roundtable tour to collaborate with Supervisors to protect the integrity of our voter rolls,” Detzner said in the statement.

Continue reading "Scott's Voter Purge Part II hits the road in October" »

FL health dept to counties: Keep Obamacare helpers away from properties

From Health News Florida:

The Florida Department of Health has become the latest arm of state government to distance itself from  the federal Affordable Care Act. It has ordered county health units not to allow outreach workers called Navigators onto their property to help uninsured people sign up for subsidized health coverage.

The order from C. Meade Grigg, deputy DOH secretary for statewide services, went out late Monday to  the 60 local health department directors around the state. He wrote that the staff may accept informational materials from the Navigators to hand out upon request.

“However, Navigators will not conduct activities on the grounds of the health departments,” Grigg wrote. He said the policy was developed after some had asked DOH for permission to operate within state facilities, presumably because uninsured people often seek treatment there.

Dr. Marc Yacht, retired Pasco County Health Director, said the policy will “significantly compromise a multitude of needy Floridians from getting critical health care.” He called it “cruel and irresponsible.”

More here

Devious plan or bluff? Rick Scott backers may help Nan Rich vs. Charlie Crist

@MarcACaputo

Little-known and struggling financially, Nan Rich might get some help from the unlikeliest of places during the Democratic primary race for governor: supporters of Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

Scott’s top political advisor and pollster Tony Fabrizio hinted at the scheme late Tuesday night in a rare appearance at the Women’s Republican Club of Miami.

Team Scott’s ultimate goal: vex Charlie Crist, a well-known former governor and Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat who might run against Rich to unseat Scott.

“I don’t know if Charlie Crist wins the primary against Nan Rich. And that’s not saying that Nan Rich wouldn’t have help,” Fabrizio said with a smile. “You never know. There could be interested citizens that like to help Nan Rich… Nan Rich is the true Democrat.”

Coincidentally, the legal-lobbying firm of Becker & Poliakoff is fundraising for both Rich and Scott.

More here

State tells 'navigators' to stay away from county health departments

From Health News Florida:

The Florida Department of Health has become the latest arm of state government to distance itself from the federal Affordable Care Act. It has ordered county health units not to allow outreach workers called Navigators onto their property to help uninsured people sign up for subsidized health coverage.

The order from C. Meade Grigg, deputy DOH secretary for statewide services, went out late Monday to  the 60 local health department directors around the state. He wrote that the staff may accept informational materials from the Navigators to hand out upon request.

“However, Navigators will not conduct activities on the grounds of the health departments,” Grigg wrote. He said the policy was developed after some had asked DOH for permission to operate within state facilities, presumably because uninsured people often seek treatment there.

Dr. Marc Yacht, retired Pasco County Health Director, said the policy will “significantly compromise a multitude of needy Floridians from getting critical health care.” He called it “cruel and irresponsible.”

Grigg’s note said the policy is consistent with requests from other groups in the past, which he did not name. The order makes an exception for federally qualified health centers that are operating within local health departments; 41 such clinics in Florida received $8.1 million in federal grants specifically to help uninsured patients enroll in a health plan.

The Navigator program in Florida is being funded by $7.8 million in other federal grants, of which $4.2 million went to the Covering Kids & Families Program at the University of South Florida. USF is disbursing the money to 10 organizations around the state that will hire, train and supervise the outreach workers.

After hearing about Grigg's note, Health News Florida requested a copy and an interview with the author. Grigg was not made available, but DOH spokeswoman Ashley Carr sent a brief note citing the reasons the note was sent. There was a need for “clarity” and “a consistent message” across the agency, she wrote. But that wasn’t all.

“Navigators are not acting on behalf of the Department of Health,” Carr wrote, “and this program has raised privacy concerns due to the consumer information that will be gathered for use in a federal database.”

This echoes remarks by Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty at a Cabinet meeting in August. The officeholders, all Republicans who have opposed the Affordable Care Act in the past, said they worried the Obama administration wants to amass a huge databank of Americans’ health information or that the Navigators on their own might steal personal identifiers.

Read more here.

After City Hall threatened, North Miami mayor takes on police chauffeur

@NadegeGreen

In response to threatening phone calls to City Hall, North Miami Mayor Lucie Tondreau now has a police officer chauffeuring her around to city functions.

In one instance, Police Chief Marc Elias drove Tondreau’s daughter to school.

The revelation came during Tuesday night’s council meeting when Councilman Scott Galvin asked why the city called a tow-truck to have a resident’s car removed from the mayor’s parking spot.

Galvin said he believed the tow-truck was called for an employee to park in the space instead.

That is when Tondreau clarified the white Chevrolet SUV with city plates was her police escort.

“The city car that was parked in my parking space was used by the police department since we have had threats to the city. Somebody wants to blow us out. Somebody does not like the fact that black people are in majority in this body. They don’t like it,” she said.

More here.

Rouson says money transfer to Dems will be made today

The $147,000 raised by Rep. Darryl Rouson’s now-defunct committee is getting returned, according to the St. Petersburg Democrat.

A UPS overnight package will be arriving Wednesday at the law office of Meyer, Brooks, Demma and Blohm, a firm used by some Florida Democratic campaigns, Rouson said.

The money comes in the form of $134,000 in contributions deposited with Rouson’s Florida House Democratic Caucus Affiliated Party Committee, which was closed Monday. The money, Rouson said, also includes $13,000 in two uncashed checks, including $10,000 from the Florida Hospital Association. The arrival of the money should ease some concerns, which donors were beginning to raise.

Rouson said the only money spent by the committee was $35 for the printing of checks.

The committee rankled leaders with the Florida Democratic Party, who didn’t know about it until last week. On Thursday, Party Chair Allison Tant fired the two staffers, Jeff Ryan and Chris Mitchell, who helped Rouson create the committee in August.

Continue reading "Rouson says money transfer to Dems will be made today" »

Broward mourns former Congressman E Clay Shaw

@amysherman1

If the National Republican Congressional Committee had gotten it's first choice for a candidate for Congress in 1980, perhaps Broward would have never sent E. Clay Shaw to Washington.

In 1980, national Republicans pursued state sen. Van Poole (now a lobbyist). Poole declined but said that he had another guy in mind: Fort Lauderdale Mayor E. Clay Shaw. Poole said he brought Shaw and the NRCC rep together for lunch and urged Shaw to run. 

Ultimately Shaw beat Democrat Alan Becker of the politically influential Becker Poliakoff law firm and went on to have a 26 year in Congress. 

“South Florida has lost a true gentleman -- someone who served people of South Florida with integrity and honor,” said Eric Eikenberg, Shaw's last chief of staff.

The legislative accomplishment Shaw was most proud of was welfare reform legislation which he authored in the 1980s and eventually saw passed in 1996 under President Bill Clinton.

“Clay Shaw was there from the beginning until the end. Bill Clinton signed welfare Aug. 22, 1996 Clay Shaw’s wedding anniversary,” Eikenberg said.

Shaw was proud of the fact that millions of Americans were no longer dependent on government and were working.

Shaw first drew attention for legislation about missing and exploited children after the kidnapping of Adam Walsh of Hollywood. He was also known as a relentless advocate for funding for the Everglades.

After working along with Democratic officials for decades, Shaw faced a tough challenge in 2006 when state legislator Ron Klein challenged him. It was a fierce battle and both sides brought in the big guns to help: Barack Obama, then a Senator, campaigned for Klein while President George Bush and Dick Cheney helped Shaw raise money.

The race divided Democratic officials in Broward -- and some including then County Commissioner Ilene Lieberman stayed neutral due to their strong working relationship with Shaw.

“He was extremely helpful to us with the airport expansion ....,” she said.  “He is the reason we have the cell phone lot. It was his idea.”

Just like other residents in Broward, Shaw’s wife Emilie couldn’t just park curbside anymore after Sept.  11 at the airport. One day Shaw picked up the phone and called Lieberman and suggested a cell phone lot much like one he had seen elsewhere in the country. The lot opened in 2006 and remains heavily used today.

Though Shaw was seen as a very calm and nice man, “when it came to politics and campaigning he was as fierce as anyone you ever met,” Eikenberg recounted. “He was disappointed to leave Congress after the 2006 election but he was quickly able to look back at the totality of a career that spanned four U.S. presidents that captured so many accomplishments he was proud of.”

Here are some other comments by politicians who represent Broward:

* Broward County Mayor Kristin Jacobs: “My condolences to the family of Clay Shaw, one of South Florida’s most influential and respected leaders.  When I was a brand-new commissioner, he invited me to participate in his semi-annual Washington DC Fly-In.  He was the most gracious host, welcoming us in a non-partisan way.  I learned so much from him about how to find common ground with others to get things done.  He was a lovely person who cared deeply about Broward County and his caliber of public service will be sorely missed.”

* U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel D-West Palm Beach: “We have lost a great statesman for South Florida. I will always fondly remember Clay Shaw from my time as Mayor of West Palm Beach, as someone who you could work with in a bipartisan manner and as a true gentleman. My heart goes out to his family at this difficult time.”

* U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar,  “Words cannot express how deeply sorry I was to hear of the passing of my dear friend, Congressman Clay Shaw.  He was an exemplary public servant and a man of vision. ... Clay was known for his tenacity in tackling big issues. As Chairman of the House Subcommittees on Trade, Social Security, and Human Resources, he dedicated himself to bettering the lives of all Americans and fought to improve our nation’s Social Security program. I feel truly blessed to have known him, and to have worked with him in so many ways to make our country stronger.

* Mitch Ceasar, longtime Broward Democratic chair: “I found him a true gentleman. That type of elected official is very few and far between these days.” When Bill Clinton won, his office reached out to Ceasar’s office to offer inauguration tickets for himself and other Democrats -- and continued to do that in later cycles. “He was of the old school. ... More civility.”

* Former state Sen. Jim Scott, Republican: “He kept a nice misdemeanor. None of this angry throwing mud at other people and parties, more of a professional approach.”