Dear Fellow Floridians:
February has arrived, and we’re just about halfway through the 2016 Legislative Session. As is the setting each year, the issues facing Florida bring forward ardent advocates on all sides. Issues are vigorously debated, with each side making their best argument before the Legislative body that will ultimately decide.
As we move forward in this process, it’s important to me that I keep Floridians apprised on the progress of the priorities I’ve laid out.
HB 4099 / SB 7028 - As I’ve expressed before and as current events continue to make clear, Florida long ago made the decision to not invest public funds in Iran, and I intend to keep it that way. We’re working to make sure that your tax dollars aren’t invested in companies that engage in business with state sponsors of terror and we’re well on our way. We’re taking steps closer
to the goal each week, and I hope to update you on our success in the coming weeks.
HB 221 / SB 1442 - The concept of balance billing is complex and not a subject easily solved. Everyone can agree that in times of emergency, families don’t have time to question whether or not the hospital ER that’s closest to home—or the medical providers that ultimately take care of them—are within their insurance company’s network. The tough part is finding a solution for the unexpected and sometimes costly medical expenses that are associated with out-of-network care.
My goal remains to take consumers out of these medical billing equations, and I’ve been working hard, meeting with medical providers, insurance companies and hospitals alike to try to identify a solution that makes sense for Florida. The solution rests in finding a mechanism to ensure that medical providers and insurance companies are treated fairly when determining how these out-of-network costs should be settled. Those conversations are continuing, and we hope to find a fair and balanced solution this year.
Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate, Sha’Ron James, has led the charge on this issue, hosting forums and workshops to help the industry and all Floridians learn more about this important consumer issue. ICA James continues to hear from people all across Florida who are managing the impacts of balance billing. If you’ve been impacted by this issue and would like for your story to be heard, please contact her by emailing
HB 1041 / SB 966 - Life insurance is one of the most important decisions a family can make and many see it as a one-time deal—you find the policy that’s right for your family, sign up, pay your premiums and that’s it—the company will be there when the time comes. The disheartening part of that scenario is that there’s so much more to the story that’s never discussed—so much more that many insurance companies don’t want you to know.
We’ve discovered that many insurance companies aren’t sharing with consumers at the time the family signs on that the company has no intention of trying to connect with your beneficiaries after you pass. We’ve learned that within the walls of many companies, the policy is that unless the beneficiaries knock on the right door, with policy paperwork and death certificate in hand, they may never get the money that was set aside for them years before.
Think about it—do you know where your original policy paperwork is right now—in the attic, in a filing cabinet, long since in the trash bin? You may have signed up for the policy years ago and in the new age of technology, think that surely all that’s necessary when the time comes is a simple phone call from the beneficiary—but that’s not the case.
Billions of dollars—hundreds of thousands policies— were never paid to beneficiaries. Why? When we asked that question, we heard every story in the book from 'we didn’t know the policyholder had died' to 'the beneficiary was lost and we couldn’t find them’ to 'it’s not my problem if a beneficiary never finds me.'
And now we’re working to make sure that it never happens again in Florida. We’re taking steps to ensure that every legitimate policy is paid out to beneficiaries, and, if in fact the insurance company cannot locate the beneficiary, that the money gets turned over to my office where I will continue to look for the loved one for whom the money was intended.
The insurance industry feels differently and this one won’t be easy, but rest assured that I won’t stop until I’ve made the best case possible to the Legislature.
What I’m asking for is a smart, reasonable change to public policy that will ensure each of you are able to fulfill the promises that were once made to you.
I’ll keep you up to date.
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida