U.S. Senator Bill Nelson is spending his August recess from Congress traveling Florida to hear the concerns of every-day Floridians. Florida’s insurance crisis keeps coming up, and Wednesday reporter Victoria Langley caught up with the Senator at a sandwich shop in Jefferson County east of Tallahassee to hear what he thinks should be done about it.
Florida’s senior U-S Senator met with a dozen locals on the back deck of a sandwich shop to get a handle on what folks are really concerned about outside of Washington. We wanted to know why his efforts to create a national Catastrophe Fund to back up states in a disaster and help bring down insurance rates haven’t gone anywhere.
Nelson blames resistance from the White House. But he says the real problem is state lawmakers in Tallahassee aren’t doing their part.
“By constantly saying oh, you gotta turn to the federal government and let them solve the problem, that is for the state to ignore its obligations and to let the insurance companies get off scott-free by jacking their prices to the moon.”
Jefferson County Commissioner Jerry Sutphin agrees. He says the insurance crisis is clobbering folks on fixed incomes in his rural area. Premiums doubled and tripled or policies cancelled, even after the legislature supposedly passed a law to fix the problem last winter.
“Do you think they did enough to solve the insurance problem? Sounds like you’ve still got a problem out here.
Jerry: I didn’t know they did anything. At least we haven’t seen it.”
Nelson is a former State Insurances Commissioner himself. He wants to remind lawmakers states hold the only regulatory power over the insurance industry.
“So when the state does not do its job in cracking the whip on the insurance companies, holding down those rates, then the people are going to take it in the neck.”
Nelson is adding his voice to the chorus calling for state lawmakers to go back to the drawing board on insurance reform.
Lawmakers are scheduled to meet in special session next month to cut state spending because of the weakening economy.
Although the House Minority Leader among others has asked that insurance reform be added to the agenda, so far no one has signed on.