Florida Health Insurance Advisory Board Meeting Report: November 21

Nov 21, 2008

Today, November 21, 2008, the Florida Health Insurance Advisory Board held a meeting in Tallahassee, Florida.  To view the complete meeting agenda, click here.

Chairman Kevin McCarty Insurance Commissioner, Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (“OIR”), opened the meeting and provided introductory remarks, noting the following:

  • The Florida Revenue Estimating Conference Committee is scheduled to release updated information on the State budget today, which is expected to be down an additional $1.2 billion.
  • The Cover Florida Healthcare legislation (Senate Bill 2534) signed into law in May 2008, which was championed by Governor Crist, is intended to foster a vibrant, competitive health insurance market.

Carol Ostapchuk, OIR Staff, reviewed the financial statements for small employer and individual coverage programs, and reviewed the budget, noting that policyholder assessments will be increased.

Ms. Ostapchuk also reviewed the annual state of the health insurance market report.  The report focused on individuals under age 65, which includes approximately 15 million Floridians.  The report shows that 24 percent of Floridians in this demographic are uninsured.  The national average is 17 percent.  In Florida, 11 percent of individuals under 18 are uninsured.  The report was adopted by the Board.  A full copy of the report will be made available online via the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation’s website.

Eric Lingswiler, OIR Staff, reviewed the following recent and anticipated legislative initiatives:

  • The Florida Autism Task Force is seeking the recommendations outlined in Senate Bill 2654, known as the Steven A. Geller Autism Coverage Act.
  • President-elect Obama’s healthcare plan, under which healt care participation would be mandatory beginning with children, with other groups to be phased in. Due to the current economic climate, budgetary items will be the first priority of the new presidential administration.
  • A Federal white paper to be discussed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners that is similar to Senator Hillary Clinton’s healthcare proposal, which presents a more universal plan.
  • The Genetic Information Act recently signed into law by President Bush, which prohibits the use of genetic information as a basis to deny insurance coverage.

Following the legislative update, the Board briefly discussed individuals who live in Florida but are undocumented with regard to universal healthcare coverage.  The total number of individuals in this category has not been determined, and as a result, the costs associated with providing coverage for them is speculative.

Board Member Michael Jackson, Executive VP and CEO, Florida Pharmacy Association, provided a report on pharmacy providers’ statutory obligations.  Pharmacy providers are concerned because they are held to standards that the pharmacy and medical Boards have no regulatory authority over.  Chairman McCarty directed OIR Staff to review this issue.

Lori Parham, State Director, AARP Florida, gave a presentation on healthcare coverage with a focus on the individual market, stating that most individual healthcare plans are unaffordable, especially for high-risk individuals.  She noted that AARP offers guaranteed issuance and coverage renewals, and has a pure community rating.  She also expressed concern about the Cover Florida legislation.

Board members challenged Ms. Parham’s contention that individual policies are more expensive than group policies, and agreed to work towards getting state funds to subsidize premiums for high-risk individuals.

Linda Siegler, Actuary, OIR, discussed the OIR’s Medicare supplement insurance rate comparison website, which may be viewed by clicking here.

Mr. Lingswiler noted that the Board does not have any 2009 legislative recommendations at this time.

Relating to other matters, Board member Walter Dartland, Consumer Federation of the Southeast, raised the issue of insurance fraud, noting there is approximately $8 million per day in fraudulent activity.  He asked that the Board take a more detailed look at fraud.  He also suggested that businesses and other consumer groups be invited by the Board to give presentations. 

There being no further business before the Board, the meeting adjourned. 


Should you have any questions regarding this meeting, please do not hesitate to contact Colodny Fass.


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