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My Florida C F O
Weekly eNewsletter from Florida's Chief Financial Officer

Dear Fellow Floridian:

As we near the launch of the Affordable Care Act on October 1, it is important for consumers to be aware of the potential for scams. Reports have already emerged of callers and other solicitors posing as government agency representatives and asking for personal information or contacting consumers saying that they have been selected as one of the first Americans to receive the new health insurance cards as part of the Affordable Care Act. The Federal Trade Commission reports nearly 83,000 complaints of “imposter” scams occurred in 2012 alone. Additional reports state that some scammers have gone as far as creating entire false enrollment websites and setting up bogus toll-free numbers.

Consumers can protect themselves by keeping in mind that no one can apply for coverage under the Affordable Care Act, compare plans or receive any enrollment documentation before October 1, 2013. Anyone who claims to offer an earlier application for coverage is trying to scam you.

For consumers concerned about the arduous requirements of the new law, my Department's Division of Consumer Services has launched a new webpage about the ACA and will be hosting educational webinars for small business owners. For information about the webinars, visit http://www.myfloridacfo.com/Division/Consumers/HealthReform.htm.

In addition to the webinars, consumer helpline specialists areHealth Insurance Reform and You-Your Guide to the Affordable Care Act available to personally answer questions about the ACA regarding eligibility requirements, the enrollment process and periods, available health plans and qualification requirements for the premium assistance tax credit. The toll free helpline number is 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (1-877-693-5236) and is available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with assistance in English, Spanish and Creole.

As your Chief Financial Officer, I stand committed to offer you the necessary resources to understand how the new law will impact your family and your business.

Jeff Atwater
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

News of Interest

Reuters: Better days lie ahead for the U.S. economy

Florida Trend: Florida's I-4 Corridor is a High Tech Hotbed

Sun-Sentinel: Fort Lauderdale moves up on 'hottest hub' list

Sun-Sentinel: Two Florida colleges ranked among 50 best in U.S.

Miami Herald: Developers build thousands of units amid demand for leasing

Tampa Bay Business Journal: Tampa a top 10 city for influx, moving company says

Jacksonville Business Journal: Is Florida becoming a national biosciences hotspot?

IASIU Awards 2013 Public Service of the Year Award to Florida Investigator

This week, Florida Division of Insurance Fraud Detective Dwight Murphy was awarded the 2013 Public Service of the Year Award by the International Association of Special Investigative Units (IASIU) during their 2013 Seminar held in Atlanta, Georgia.

Division of Insurance Fraud Detective Badge

Detective Murphy has been with the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud since May 2008 and has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience. During his time with the division, he has distinguished himself as an outstanding detective. He has made nearly 120 arrests involving charges for Application Fraud, Identity Theft, Grand Theft, Life Insurance Fraud, Forgery, Organized Scheme to Defraud, Continuing Criminal enterprise (RICO), Florida Communication Fraud, Insurance Fraud and PIP Fraud resulting in court ordered restitution of over $39 million.

Read more about Detective Murphy's recognition.

Settlement Agreement with Transamerica

Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty announced Wednesday that a life claim settlement agreement has been reached with Transamerica Life Insurance Company and its affiliates.

The Transamerica settlement represents the eighth life claim settlement agreement for Florida. Presently, state insurance regulators have either reached settlements or concluded the investigation of nine of the top 20 companies constituting over 45 percent of the total market. Nationally, the priority is focused on the remaining examinations of more than 30 top life and annuity insurers in this market.

All of the settlements concentrate on the insurers’ asymmetrical use of the U.S. Social Security Death Master File (DMF) and the practice of using it to stop paying a deceased person’s annuity, but not using it to search for beneficiaries of a life insurance policy to determine if benefits were due. As part of the settlement agreements, insurers are now required to use it in locating beneficiaries and must promptly remit payment to the unclaimed property division of each state for beneficiaries that cannot be located.

As a result of this process, regulators predict the overall anticipated payouts will eventually reach up to $3 billion to beneficiaries directly and through the states. The estimated amount of property to be reported nationally for the Transamerica settlement is $137 million.

“As a result of this agreement and our continuing efforts to help consumers dealing with wrongful insurance company practices, Florida families will finally be able to receive the money they are owed,” CFO Atwater said. “We will continue to be diligent in our efforts to ensure insurance companies meet their financial obligations.”

For more information about this issue, visit the Office of Insurance Regulation’s Life Claims Settlement Practices website page. To search for or claim unclaimed property, visit www.FLTreasureHunt.org, or call 1-88-VALUABLE or (850) 413-3089.

Innovation Drives Florida's Economy

Florida has worked hard to create an environment for long-term growth and investment that allows businesses to better serve their communities and employ more of their neighbors. This culture of economic innovation has helped Florida Florida's Bottom Line be recognized as the “Most Innovative State in the Nation” by Fast Company magazine this year.

Beginning with its edition on biotechnology, Florida’s Bottom Line is presenting a three-part series on Innovative Florida, highlighting the people and industries that are driving our future as a diversified economy. We are now recognized as one of the most attractive areas worldwide for the biotechnology industry, with more than 200 biotechnology companies calling Florida home.

The quarterly edition of Florida's Bottom Line is complemented by its often-updated website, www.MyFloridaCFO.com/FloridasBottomLine. When new economic data is released, it can be found here. Florida's consumer confidence, retail index, employment statistics and various other resources will keep you up-to-date.