Volume 3 Number 46
November 13, 2006

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Eager to learn more about the job she will step into in January, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer-elect Alex Sink spent today meeting with me and several employees of the Department of Financial Services.

“I am grateful to everyone for so graciously welcoming me,” Sink said. “I am excited to serve the people the Florida and look forward to a seamless transition.”

A constitutional officer of Florida, the CFO serves as the state’s financial watchdog, monitors the state’s investments and spending and keeps track of the more than $70 billion that comes into and goes out of state government each year. The CFO is also a consumer advocate on insurance and financial matters.





As the incoming CFO, Sink will oversee an agency with nearly 2,800 employees and a $500 million budget. She was formerly the Florida president of Bank of America, where she managed more than $40 billion in assets while supervising more than 9,000 employees in 800 branches.


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Tom Gallagher, Florida’s chief financial officer, announced that free home inspections will soon begin in Charlotte, Collier and Monroe counties for nearly 700 homeowners who applied through the My Safe Florida Home program. The program, funded with $250 million by the Florida Legislature, was created to better protect
Floridians by strengthening their homes against hurricanes and to reduce the state’s exposure to hurricane damage.

“Before this hurricane season ends, my goal is to provide 12,000 free home inspections across the state to help Floridians strengthen their homes and better protect their families against catastrophic storms,” said Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services which administers the My Safe Florida Home program.

Gallagher said that homeowners in Charlotte, Collier and Monroe counties who have already submitted completed applications will be contacted by a department-approved inspector to schedule an inspection. The department has already received 1,128 completed applications from homeowners in these three counties. Future applicants will be served with additional funding of the My Safe Florida Home program.  CONTINUED




Firefighters from throughout Florida gathered last week at the South Florida Community College for the Great Florida Fire School, where they received hands-on and classroom training in a variety of subjects.  More than 170 students attended 29 different classes for a total of 5,176 student contact hours.  

In its twelfth year, the fire school is a traveling training program intended to save fire
fighters from having to travel to other programs that often can be miles away. Courses included wildland firefighting operations, LP gas fires, firefighter safety, extrication, fire investigations, explosive device recognition and safety, emergency response to terrorism, rope rescue, emergency medical services, public education and stress management.

“We bring these professionals the same classroom and practical training that they would get at the Florida State Fire College in Ocala,” said State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher.  “By bringing the training to them, it saves their departments the expense of travel and lodging and keeps them near the communities they serve.”



The open enrollment period for Medicare health and prescription drug coverage starts November 15, 2006, and Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher is encouraging consumers to take advantage of new resources available on-line, including a comparison of Medicare options and a Medicare prescription drug plan finder at www.medicare.gov.

During the open enrollment period, seniors will have the opportunity to join the Medicare plan or make a change in their health and prescription drug plans. If an individual lacks coverage and doesn’t sign up during open enrollment, a penalty of as much as one-percent per month could be added to the monthly premium. Open enrollment ends December 31.

Gallagher reminds seniors to also keep these tips in mind:
  • Beware of door-to-door salesmen. Agents cannot solicit business at your home.
  • Seniors should never give personal information unless the person or the product is approved by Medicare.
  • Salesmen are not allowed to ask seniors for personal information when marketing products.
  • Questions about products being offered can be answered at 1-800-MEDICARE.
  • If fraud is suspected, seniors should call the U.S. Health and Human Services Inspector General at 1-800-HHS-TIPS.


A tornado skipped across the Orlando area and touched down in Seminole County causing significant damage to homes and vehicles. Officials say the tornado was selective, hitting one home and skipping another before jumping the road and causing damage in another neighborhood.

Homeowners were visited in person by Florida Department of Financial Services representatives to assess the damage and help contact insurance companies. Specialists delivered "Are you Prepared" brochures and consumer guides. Victims of the storm can get assistance from the department's consumer helpline at 800-342-2762.
National Weather Service meteorologists toured the damage zones and confirmed that an F-1 tornado was responsible for damage to homes in two subdivisions and a nearby farm. F-1 tornadoes pack winds of 73 to 112 mph and are capable of causing moderate damage, according to the Fujita scale.


As a business or an individual looking for health insurance, do your homework to protect yourself against potential scams.

Small businesses may be vulnerable to health-insurance scams because of increased health-care costs, difficulty finding coverage, and lack of knowledge about the subject.

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, states are finding it difficult to regulate association health plans that reach across state lines. Some  scams have duped consumers and businesses into paying for insurance that doesn't exist.

Fake insurance brokers might mimic the names of legitimate companies, and licensed insurance agents have been tricked into selling fake plans. Scams ultimately affect everyone from unpaid hospitals and health-care providers to consumers who are left with unaffordable health-care bills.

The U.S. Department of Labor and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners recommend that you:

  • Make sure that the person selling insurance is licensed by the state by asking the Florida Department of Financial Services, 1-800-342-2762, or go online to www.MyFloridaCFO.com and click on "Check out your insurance agent." CONTINUED



The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently awarded $757,402 to the Florida Department of Health to continue development of a state-level, web-based, health tracking system. When complete, Florida's Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) Program will track environmental hazards, chronic diseases and adverse health risks to better understand the link between the environment and health. Public health surveillance or tracking systems are critical in preventing and controlling disease.

This funding will be used to further develop a statewide network of health and environmental data that will drive actions to improve the health of our communities. Florida is one of sixteen states funded by the CDC to develop plans for the creation of the electronic computerized tracking network. The CDC is establishing the network by drawing on a wide range of expertise from federal agencies, state and local health and environmental agencies, nongovernmental organizations, state public health and environmental laboratories, and schools of public health.

For more information on the Florida Department of Health, please visit www.doh.state.fl.us.