Thursday, August 30, 2007

Action Item: Tell Legislature to Get the Job Done Right This Time


When the Florida Legislature convenes the special session scheduled to begin September 18, it will cost taxpayers $40,000 a day. To date, legislative leadership is insisting they will focus solely on making essential budget reductions, despite calls from all sides that they take up two urgent issues they failed to address during the regular session.

1. No-Fault Auto Insurance and PIP Coverage: On October 1st, Florida's no-fault auto insurance laws are scheduled to expire, and there will no longer be any requirement that drivers carry a minimum level of personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. PIP provides an essential health care safety net. Without it, the twenty percent of Floridians who have no health insurance will have no coverage for treatment of injuries sustained in auto accidents, and hospitals say they will be forced to bear the costs of administering emergency treatment to uninsured accident victims. Health insurance companies say they will be forced to increase premiums, and courts will be clogged with lawsuits. To protect Florida's drivers, the Legislature must extend the current law for a year to allow time for reform legislation to be developed.

2. KidCare: More than half a million Florida children are without health insurance of any kind. The KidCare program is designed to provide coverage to children whose parents make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private health insurance. However, because Florida has failed to maximize enrollment in the program, we have lost more than $130 million dollars in available federal funding. A package of reforms was proposed in this year's legislative session with wide, bi-partisan support, including the backing of Governor Charlie Crist, CFO Alex Sink, and most legislative leaders. But the legislature ended the regular session without enacting this widely supported reform legislation that would have helped thousands of uninsured Florida children get access to basic medical care.

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