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Legislators hire Deffenbaugh to write health care laws

One of the many complications of the Affordable Care Act is how the changes in health insurance regulations put the state's laws out of whack with new federal standards. As with other aspects of the health care law, state lawmakers have resisted addressing these issues and now find themselves with few options and a ticking clock.

Enter Brian Deffenbaugh, a veteran around the Capitol whose career in state government began in 1978. He is being paid $8,000 a month for five months to advise both the House and Senate on insurance issues, especially as it relates to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The contract began in January. (Click here to read the contract details.)

Deffenbaugh will help both chambers draft legislation that brings state law into alignment with the new federal law. Officials from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation said Thursday that Deffenbaugh has been meeting with the insurance industry as he creates draft language.

It's a touchy issue. Some legislators have complained that the state's insurance regulations have stronger consumer protections than the new federal law. State insurance regulators say they are receiving pressure from insurers to keep as much power at the state level as possible because they have a distaste for the federal bureaucracy. 

Deffenbaugh has served as an attorney or staff director for various Florida House and Senate committees. Most recently, he worked as senior counsel at the Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate's office. Before that, he served as director of ethics at Citizens Property Insurance.