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CFO Atwater Focused on Supporting Florida’s Workforce, Streamlining Government and Fighting Fraud During 2015 Legislative Session

3/3/2015

Contact: Ashley Carr
(850) 413–2842
 
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – During the 2015 Legislative Session, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater is focused on supporting Florida’s workforce, streamlining government and fighting fraud. His legislative priorities include creating a college-to-career pathway for Florida’s insurance professionals and expanding the state’s unclaimed property program.
 
“I look forward to working with the Legislature on several initiatives that will streamline the way we do business, advocate for standardized hospital billing practices and drive out the fraud that is driving up the cost of living in our state,” said CFO Atwater.
 
CFO Atwater’s legislative priorities are:
 
Creating a College-to-Career Pathway:
 
Senator Garrett Richter and Representative Jay Fant have sponsored SB 1222/HB 1133, which creates a college-to-career pathway for those seeking degrees in insurance-related fields. This bill waives state examination requirements based on college course work and successful degree completion and will ensure that Florida produces the most capable and prepared individuals to join the insurance workforce.
 
Streamlining Government:
 
The Department of Financial Services supports efforts to modify legislative language that drastically restricts the Department from restructuring its operations. Sponsored by Senator Tom Lee and Representative Scott Plakon, SB 1402/HB 987 will allow the Department to better align its resources more efficiently.
 
Advocating for Consumers:
 
Unexpected costs can arise when consumers seek emergency out-of-network medical care. SB 516/HB 681, sponsored by Senator Aaron Bean and Representative Carlos Trujillo, modifies emergency services billing procedures to protect consumers from these unanticipated and costly expenses by requiring medical providers and health care plans to provide predictable and fair billing for patients who believe they are receiving in-network care. 
 
Supporting Florida’s Workforce:
 
SB 1060/HB 1013, sponsored by Senator David Simmons and Representative Bill Hager, modifies ratification requirements to workers’ compensation manuals, allowing health providers who treat patients for on-the-job injuries to be reimbursed at reasonable payment rates. This will ensure greater access to care for injured workers and cost containment for insurers and employers.
 
Expanding Unclaimed Property:
 
SB 1138/HB 887, sponsored by Senator Jeff Brandes and Representative Jay Trumbull, expands the state’s unclaimed property program to include unclaimed federal savings bonds. The federal government currently holds more than 1.45 million unclaimed bonds, valued at $492 million, belonging to individuals whose last known address was in Florida.
 
Fighting Fraud:
 
SB 1306/HB 1127, sponsored by Senator Rob Bradley and Representative Jennifer Sullivan, will aid the Department’s efforts to combat insurance fraud in several ways. First, this bill clarifies vague statutory language and clearly defines reimbursement claims filed by clinics in violation of licensing requirements as criminal violations. Doing so will better enable state prosecutors to successfully prosecute these cases and will serve as a deterrent to those currently engaging in fraudulent behavior. This bill will also allow insurance fraud investigators to better track, predict and curb fraud trends in Florida by providing access to data gathered by insurance companies’ internal special investigations units. Such data regarding the amount of insurance fraud experienced, referred and addressed internally is valuable to insurance regulatory agencies.
 
Finally, it requires PIP clinics that are currently able to self-exempt from licensure to obtain a Certificate of Exemption, which would allow the tracking of clinic ownership and PIP reimbursements.
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Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability in spending. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).