FLORIDA'S KIDCARE: A MUTUAL GOAL
In recent days, I have received numerous phone calls and e-mails from Floridians concerned about expanded funding for our state’s health insurance programs for children. I share these concerns because for many working families, the greatest need they have is health insurance coverage for their children.
It is important to know that more than 1.6 million children currently have health insurance coverage through Florida’s KidCare programs, including the Healthy Kids program that I was fortunate to help get started just 10 years ago. Since the inception of these programs, more than $3 billion has been appropriated to increase children’s access to needed medical care. In the last five years alone, the number of children served through these programs has doubled.
In recent months, I have had the opportunity to serve as co-chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Access to Affordable Health Insurance. One of our top directives was to determine how best to serve our uninsured population, including children.
We considered options for covering more children and learned that federal matching funds for KidCare programs were not guaranteed and that there were financial ramifications for enrolling more children without dedicated funds, including huge future deficits in these programs. Fiscal foresight and caution should be exercised so these programs, and the children they serve, are not jeopardized.
State leaders share a mutual goal of improving children’s access to health care and I believe the governor and lawmakers are committed to making policy decisions that will sustain the long-term financial viability and success of Florida’s KidCare programs.
GALLAGHER URGES CONSUMERS TO BEWARE OF SHARING PERSONAL OR FINANCIAL INFORMATION
Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher is warning consumers to beware of phone calls or e-mails from people claiming to represent their bank, credit union or credit card company and asking for help in verifying or updating personal account information.
“Scam artists are trying to trick consumers into giving out personal and financial information, either over the phone or through the Internet,” Gallagher said. “Consumers should verify this kind of request with their financial institution immediately.”
Recent examples include: CONTINUED
BEWARE OF HIGH-COST “PREDATORY” HOME LOANS
There is no clear-cut definition of a "predatory" loan, but many experts agree it is the result of a company misleading, tricking and sometimes coercing someone into taking out a home loan (typically a home equity loan or mortgage refinancing) at excessive costs and without regard to the homeowner's ability to repay. Victims who have trouble repaying often face harassing collection tactics, may refinance the loan at even higher fees or lose their home.
Predatory lenders target consumers they believe are in need of cash or are otherwise vulnerable. Examples include seniors who need money for medical bills or home repairs, and lower-income communities where there may be limited competition among more reputable lenders.
Here are suggestions for protecting yourself: CONTINUED
MORE ARRESTS IN ONGOING PIP FRAUD INVESTIGATION
An Orlando clinic owner, his wife and office manager were arrested in an ongoing investigation of a Miami-based “paper” auto accident ring that so far has resulted in 46 arrests. Investigators with the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, said a year-long investigation has uncovered nearly $500,000 in fraudulent automobile insurance billings.
Jose Oscar Garcia, 27, owner of Orange Trauma & Rehab Center, and his wife Erika Ivette Chavez, 22, allegedly recruited at least three other people to participate in the scheme, which involved creating reports of accidents that never happened. The recruits were paid to go to clinics and participate in filing fraudulent Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance claims. CONTINUED
LOCAL ENTREPRENEUR SENTENCED IN SECURITIES FRAUD CASE
The former owner of a Broward County-based home delivery service company has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison after he was convicted in November on multiple charges of securities fraud, money laundering, wire fraud and conspiracy.
“Individuals who take advantage of Floridians, especially our elderly residents, will not be tolerated,” said Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. “Making sure scam artists get jail time sends a strong message to those who are thinking of preying on our seniors." CONTINUED