My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

Here in Florida, legislative session is right around the corner. During this 60-day session, legislators will propose and debate bills that they feel are right for the people of Florida. Laws will be passed to streamline the way government does business, to specify the way your tax dollars should be spent, and to protect public safety—just to name a few.
A Bill illustration
We all have a shared responsibility to take ownership of our state’s future, and as your CFO, I work to make sure your needs as a consumer are represented when these policy decisions are made. My priority is to ensure that your needs as a consumer come first, and I'll be once again working with the legislature on several key items I feel strongly about.

In addition to several items that streamline the way my office functions and to protect the safety of our investigators who root out fraud in our state, here’s what we’ll be talking about and championing this session:

Life insurance: Purchasing life insurance to secure your family’s financial future is one of the most important purchases one can make. To buy a life insurance policy is to buy a promise that your insurance company will be there during your family’s greatest time of need. While the importance of these policies is clear, we’ve discovered that historically, many companies have not utilized available tools and technologies that could have more quickly identified the need to fulfill the benefits of a consumer's contract. We're taking steps to ensure that insurance companies will utilize current technology and public information that will assist them in determining when a policyholder has passed away and policy benefits need to be paid. We’re also working to make sure that if a beneficiary cannot be located, that the benefit money gets turned over to our Bureau of Unclaimed Property where we will work to reunite the benefit with the intended loved one.

We all know that the passing of a loved one is a time of unmatched stress for a family. Parents, grandparents and spouses take steps by purchasing life insurance to provide comfort and financial protection during these times, and we’re going to fight to make sure that promises made are promises kept.

Thank you to Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto and Representative Bill Hager for sponsoring this important piece of legislation. Click here to learn more.

State Investment: As a matter of state’s rights, Florida can choose to invest—or not invest—where it chooses. However, the recently enacted federal Iran deal threatens to undermine Florida’s existing sanctions against investing money in Iran. In 2007, Florida enacted a law that removed public funds from companies that do business with Iran; this process is known as divestment. Since then, we’ve divested more than $1 billion from companies involved with Iran, and 30 states now have similar measures in place.

Florida state flagBut the federal Iran deal lifted its sanctions against the investment of federal public funds, and it was made clear within the very text of the agreement that the federal government intends to force states to lift their sanctions, as well.

Florida's 2007 bill included language that allows the President of the United States or Congress to nullify our sanctions, and because it was so clearly stated within that deal, we expect the president will exercise this power. In order to fully honor the people of Florida and our rights as a sovereign state, we’re proposing to remove that language in order to preserve and protect our divestment policies.

Thank you to Senator Jeremy Ring and Representative Neil Combee for respectively sponsoring this legislation designed to defend Florida’s choice to remain steadfast in its policy decisions. To learn more or to read the full bill text, click here.

Balance Billing: Whether or not you’re familiar with this term, you’ve likely been affected personally or know someone who has struggled with this medical billing issue. To be balanced billed is to receive a request for payment from an out-of-network provider to cover the cost that your insurance company did not pay because the provider was not within their outlined network. This situation happens most frequently during times of emergency when you likely lack the time or choice regarding the selection of the provider who offers treatment. It can result in high-dollar costs to the consumer, and we know that you carry insurance to defray the cost of unexpected medical expenses.

Therefore, we believe there is a better solution to this important issue that often leaves you as the consumer in the middle of a daunting billing equation involving the provider and your insurance company. We’re working to pass legislation that will hold the consumer harmless in emergency situations, paying no more than what you would pay if the provider had been in your insurance network. In an effort to ensure that hospitals and medical providers remain adequately compensated, we’re providing a mediation process in which both sides can determine a fair compensation rate—all while removing the consumer from the equation entirely.

We’re working with the legislature on this crucial consumer issue. To learn more, click here.

These are just a few of the many important topics that will be discussed this year, with individuals who feel strongly on all sides of the issues. We look forward to robust discussion on these—and all of the issues facing Floridians—and we look forward to gaining your feedback on these items and others. An informed consumer is a well-protected consumer, so please give us a call if you have any questions regarding what we’re focused on this year.

Sincerely,

Jeff
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida


Florida's Bottom Line InfographicFlorida's Bottom Line - Florida Financial Updates

As the inside track on Florida’s financial health, Florida’s Bottom Line is an in-depth quarterly financial newsletter focused on providing the latest news and analysis on Florida’s economic and financial health.

  • Discover Florida's emerging economic and business trends
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Check out the latest edition at Florida’s Bottom Line. The accompanying website will keep you updated with the latest statistics on Florida's jobs and economy. Special reports, infographics and past editions are archived on the site for easy access.

The Florida Rundown - Honoring Florida's Firefighters

State Firefighter MemorialFirefighter badgeMany people do not realize that Florida’s Chief Financial Officer also serves as the State Fire Marshal. This is an especially important position for CFO Atwater because he is the son and the father of two exemplary firefighters. Florida has so many exceptional fire service professionals who risk their lives every day for the safety of Floridians’ lives and property. On March 17, 2015, SFM Atwater hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony to open the Fallen Firefighter Monument at the State Capitol. The event and memorial pay tribute to fire service personnel who lost their lives in the line of duty. The Firefighter Monument serves as a reminder to appreciate the first responders who put their lives on the line every day. You may pay your respects for the fallen at this place of reflection the next time you visit Tallahassee.

For years now, CFO Atwater has traveled across Florida to bring the news of our great state’s financial strength to those it affects most: Florida’s taxpayers. His belief is in a government by and for the people—people who deserve to know what their government is doing. The Florida Rundown is bringing you the highlights of the past year for the 14 divisions of the CFO's Department of Financial Services.

Florida Economic Briefs

Florida’s economy predicted to outpace nation and peer states
Florida’s economy is expected to grow 2.4 percent over the next six months, according to the state’s latest leading index released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. Florida is forecast to grow faster than the nation and its peer states, California, new York, Illinois, and Texas, during this time.
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

Florida’s consumer confidence fell down in December
Consumer confidence among Floridians fell slightly in December. Expectations of the U.S. economy over the next year declined, while expectations of the U.S. economy over the next five years increased.
Source: Bureau of Economic and Business Research