Jim Brown Audio Player
Thursday, May 1st, 2008
FLORIDA OUTSHINES LOUISIANA IN INSURANCE REFORMÂ
In the short list for vice president, two names that regularly appear are Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Florida Governor Charlie Crist.Â And as part of the discussion, there are naturally comparisons as to the economic progress being made in both states.Â One area where
Crist has been in office a little over a year, and from the get go made insurance issues his front burner concern.Â When he took office in January of 2007, Crist called off his inaugural ball saying his full focus needed to be directed towards insurance reform.Â He called the Florida legislature into a three-day retreat with insurance restructuring being the only thing on the agenda.Â In fairness to Jindal, he has only been in office four months but has yet to designate one official on his staff to be the point person for much-needed change in the Louisiana insurance laws.Â Meanwhile, the Florida Legislature has been dealing with high profile insurance issues as top priorities in its present legislative session.Â In the Louisiana legislature, insurance issues are rarely mentioned.Â The comparisons are striking.Â
In the health-insurance area, Florida just this week completely revamped payment procedures from health insurers to doctors, making major strides in cutting down on red tape and putting the focus on doctors practicing medicine rather than being bogged down in reams of paperwork.Â
In addition, Governor Crist has taken a completely different approach on mandates as compared to Louisiana.Â He has legislation that will offer stripped-down health-care benefits where purchasers can choose their mandates.Â By not making so many procedures and coverage types mandatory, Florida can now offer a basic health policy for only $150 a month.Â It’s the choice of the patient.Â And it offers a basic health policy to thousands of citizens who are uninsured in Florida.Â Nothing like that has even been considered in Louisiana.Â
The words “homeowners insurance” has nary been given a mention during the current Louisiana legislative session. Affordable insurance to cover one’s property has been the single biggest detriment for rebuilding in south Louisiana.Â And yet there has not been one creative idea put on the table by legislators.Â In Florida, finding ways to reduce the cost of basic home insurance has been the front burner issue for months.Â
Just last week, the Florida Senate approved sweeping property insurance changes that have been touted in the Florida press as a “homeowner’s Bill of Rights.”Â The changes in
Florida has also put in place a series of strong consumer laws with an insurance advocate uncontrolled by the insurance department. In Louisiana last year, efforts to create a separate insurance consumer advocate, independent of the insurance department, met a chilly reception by legislators, who allowed (perhaps tongue in cheek?) for such an office to be created in the insurance department itself.Â The fox guarding the hen house?Â The comparisons between the Florida Citizens Insurance Corporation and a similar company set up by Louisiana are striking.Â
“You are the person who has to decide.
Whether you’ll do it or toss it aside; you are the person who makes up your mind.
Whether you’ll lead or will linger behind.
Whether you’ll try for the goal that’s afar. Or just be contented to stay where you are.”
– Edgar A. Guest
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Peace and Justice.