Florida Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance Approves Insurance-Related Bills: January 19, 2012

Jan 19, 2012


The Florida Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance (“Committee”) met today, January 19, 2012. 

The first bill on the agenda was Senate Bill 1220 by Senator Rene Garcia, which would delete obsolete reporting requirements relating to the Florida Health Insurance Plan, as well as the Small Employee Access Program.  The bill passed unanimously with no questions or debate.

The Committee then took up and passed Senate Bill 336 as a Committee Substitute.  Sponsored by Senator Garrett Richter, who also chairs the Committee, the bill would amend current law relating to debt settlement services.

After his bill was heard, Chairman Richter resumed the gavel and the Committee heard Senate Bill 1094 by Senator Alan Hays.  SB 1094 would amend the calculation of penalties for not carrying workers’ compensation insurance.  Senator Hays explained that the bill does not have a fiscal impact.  The Committee passed the bill with little discussion.

Senator Steve Oelrich presented Senate Bill 1346, which would make changes to the regular and emergency assessments from Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (“Citizens”). 

Citizens’ CFO Sharon Binnun stated that the state-run insurer supports any opportunity to make itself smaller and healthier.  She outlined how assessments are levied under current law and how SB 1346 would change that. 

Ms. Binnun further stated that the benefits of bringing new insurers to Florida outweigh any risks.  She explained that SB 1346 would reduce the regular assessments from Citizens’ Commercial Lines Account and the Personal Lines Account to zero.  It would also reduce the regular assessment in Citizens’ Coastal Account to two percent.  The Emergency Assessments on consumers would be spread out over time. 

Many business groups and insurance industry representatives who were on hand to testify at today’s meeting waived their speaking time in support of SB 1346.  The Committee passed the bill.

Senator Hays next presented Senate Bill 668 to the Committee.  This legislation would revise the requirements for determining the amount of reimbursement for prescription medication for repackaged or relabeled drugs under Florida’s workers’ compensation system.  Senator Hays pointed out that the bill does not prohibit or restrict a doctor’s ability to dispense prescription drugs.  In its first effective year, he explained, the legislation would save $62 million, while serving to decrease workers’ compensation rates by 2.5 percent. 

Speaking in opposition to SB 668, physician representatives who dispense drugs stated that, under the provisions of the bill, physicians would no longer be able to dispense drugs because it would not be cost effective.  Representatives of business groups and the insurance industry voiced support for the bill. 

Senator Eleanor Sobel offered an amendment to the bill clarifying that an injured worker would be entitled to select a pharmacy, pharmacist or dispensing physician for prescription drugs.  The amendment was adopted.  Senator Hays stated that he supported the amendment, but would not commit to keeping the amendment on the bill as it moves forward.   The Committee passed the bill.

Due to time constraints, the Committee meeting was adjourned.  Thus, several bills on the agenda were not heard.

To view the Committee packet, click here.  To access a video replay of the meeting, click here.


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