Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi say Ken Feinberg's "initial" new rules for administering the claims process he oversees are OK.
That's because, they say, Feinberg made revisions to his $20 billion relief operation after reading the leaders' letters and conversing with them before attending a heated House committee hearing Feb. 18. Scott and Bondi are among a big, big pool of critics from across the country who say they are frustrated with the lack of transparency and inconsistencies within the claims process.
During the House meeting, Feinberg highlighted three changes he planned to make for final payments, two of which are echoed in Scott/Bondi's recommendations below. Those included offering detailed explanations about claims and their outcomes, adding more staffers to coastal claims centers for face-to-face answers and providing an additional appeal option for claims exceeding $250,000.
Here, according to Scott's release, are steps he and Bondi want to see taken:
• Processing at least 25 percent of all pending claims by March 31, 2011.
• Expanding staffing in Florida to provide more localized treatment of claimants, specifically in Panama City, Pensacola, Santa Rosa, Gulf Breeze and Ft. Walton Beach.
• In each Florida claims office, providing the names of local, independent accounting firms that are available to review and assist claimants in preparing claims documentation. The fees for these accountants will be submitted with the claimant’s GCCF submission as an expense, reimbursable by the GCCF.
• In each Florida claims office, providing a named contact person who is part of Florida claims’ team to allow claimants to obtain additional information on the status of their claim.
• Coordinating the claims process through one person in Florida and one person in Washington in an effort to assure responsiveness and efficiency.
• Having GCCF accountants on site or available by appointment to answer questions for claimants about their claim determination calculations.
• Summarizing, by general category, the reasons for claims being denied to assist with educating claimants and possibly preventing future denials.
Feinberg will return to Tallahassee in April, the governor's office said, for an update on the process.