1. PBM REGULATION BILL GETS AN OVERHAUL HB351/SB1494
HB351 by Representative Santiago passed its first of three committees on January 17 with an amendment limiting the scope of the bill primarily to PBM registration under the insurance code, gag clause and clawbacks. While the amendment did narrow the scope of the bill significantly, it still needs work. The health plans and PCMAs are working together to clarify the language, and have met numerous times with the sponsor. The bill is on the agenda in the Appropriations committee on February 6, where we hope to have the amendment finalized.
SB1494 by Senator Montford is on the Health Policy Committee agenda on February 6. The Senate sponsor is looking to the House for the final language.
2. RETROACTIVE DENIAL MOVING IN BOTH CHAMBERS AND HEADED TO SENATE FLOOR SB162/HB217
HB217 by Representative Hager passed its first of three committees this week, despite public testimony of how this law will only increase rates. The bill would prohibit a health insurer or HMO from retroactively denying a claim at any time because of insured ineligibility, if the insurer or HMO verified the insured's eligibility at the time of treatment and provided an authorization number. An amendment was adopted in the House committee that would exclude the State's Medicaid Managed Care plan, which could be viewed as a recognition by the legislature how the potential law change will result in increased costs to providers.
Currently, a health insurer or HMO may retroactively deny a claim because of an insured's ineligibility up to 1 year after the payment of the claim. Under existing law, the patient is responsible for those claims, which potentially exposes the physician to financial risk if the patient does not pay the claims.
The Senate version, SB162, by Steube, passed its third and final committee stop this week and will be headed to the floor in week 6.
3. PROHIBITING MAIL-ORDER DRUG DISCOUNTS MOVING IN SENATE SB492/HB289
SB 492 by Garcia, passed it's second of three committees this week and prohibits an HMO or group health policy from requiring an insured to obtain a prescription drug, for a chronic illness, exclusively through mail, unless the drug is considered an "excluded" drug, a drug that the FDA decided cannot be provided by a retail pharmacy. The bill also allows the insured to obtain prescription drugs for the treatment of a "chronic illness" (a broad list of conditions) through a retail pharmacy that agrees to the same terms and conditions applicable to a mail order pharmacy and accepts payment or reimbursement from the insurer.
The House companion, HB 289 by Raschein, passed its first committee in week one and has yet to be placed on the agenda in its second stop the Insurance and Banking Subcommittee. The House bill defines "chronic illness" as HIV only.
4. HEALTH INSURER AUTHORIZATION PASSED BY THE SENATE SB98/HB199
SB98 by Steube, passed the full Senate this week. The bill revises provisions of the Insurance Code relating to prior authorization and step therapy or fail-first protocols. It requires a health insurer or a PBM to provide current prior authorization requirements, restrictions, and forms on a publicly accessible website and in written or electronic format upon request. If a health insurer or a PBM on behalf of a health insurer intends to amend or implement new prior authorization requirements or restrictions, the health insurer or PBM must:
- Ensure that the new or amended requirements or restrictions are available on its website at least 60 days before the effective date of the changes.
- Provide notice to policyholders and providers who are affected by the changes at least 60 days before the effective date. Notice may be delivered electronically or by other methods mutually agreed upon by the insured or provider.
The bill also requires a health insurer to grant a protocol exception request if:
- A preceding prescription drug or medical treatment is contraindicated or will likely cause an adverse reaction or physical or mental harm to the insured;
- A preceding prescription drug is expected to be ineffective based on the medical history of the insured and the clinical evidence of the characteristics of the preceding prescription drug or medical treatment;
- The insured previously received a preceding prescription drug or another prescription drug or medical treatment that is in the same pharmacologic class or that has the same mechanism of action as a preceding prescription drug, respectively, and the drug or treatment lacked efficacy or effectiveness or adversely affected the insured; or
- A preceding prescription drug or medical treatment is not in the best interest of the insured because the insured's use of the drug or treatment is expected to:
- Cause a significant barrier to the insured's adherence to or compliance with the insured's plan of care;
- Worsen the medical condition of the insured that exists simultaneously but independently with the condition under treatment; or
- Decrease the ability of the insured to achieve or maintain his or her ability to perform daily activities.
HB199 by Harrison unanimously passed its second of three committees this week and will be up next in House HHS. The House bill was narrowed down to eliminate the Prior Authorization section of the bill, focusing on a Step Therapy process that permits an insured to demonstrate that they had tried and failed a drug previously.
5. EYE DROP REFILLS BILLS LOOKING UNLIKELY TO MOVE SB924/HB537
SB924 by Senator Baxley would require that individual and group health insurance policies and HMO contracts which provide coverage for prescription eye drops to treat a chronic eye disease or condition, must provide coverage for prescription eye drop refills if certain criteria is met. However, the bill sponsor voluntarily postponed the bill, stating that it had come to his attention that health insurers are already voluntarily adhering to standards more generous than the bill would have required.
HB537, the House companion has not yet been scheduled for a Committee hearing. These bills are likely dead for session.
6. FLORIDA INSURANCE CODE EXEMPTION FOR NONPROFIT RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS HEADED TO HOUSE AND SENATE FLOOR VOTES HB1021/SB660
SB660 by Senator Brandes unanimously passed its third and final committee this week and will be headed to the floor. A health care sharing ministry is an alternative to health insurance through which people of similar beliefs assist each other in paying for health care. The bill conforms the statute that governs health care sharing ministries to model legislation of the American Legislative Exchange Council, federal law, and the common practices of these ministries.
The bill also requires a ministry to have an annual independent audit conducted according to generally accepted accounting principles and to provide monthly statements to participants of the total dollar amount of qualified needs shared in the previous month.
HB1021 by Representative Altman also passed its third and final committee this week. Both bills have now cleared their final committee hurdles and are ready for floor votes.
7. CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES SLOWS DOWN IN FINAL SENATE COMMITTEE HB21/SB8
SB8 by Senator Benaquisto was temporarily postponed in its final committee this week, on a motion from the sponsor in a committee that she chairs, likely to add some new language that requires further vetting. One of the potential new issues for SB8 may be mandatory e-Prescribing, which is being advocated for by Walgreens but opposed by the Florida Medical Association. This will likely only be a temporary delay for a bill that is a priority of the House, Senate and Governor. The bill is intended to address the growing opioid issue by limiting the prescription for a Schedule II opioid to a three-day supply, or a seven-day supply if deemed medically necessary. The bill also requires Department of Health (DOH) to adopt rules establishing guidelines for prescribing controlled substances. Additionally, the bill requires a health care practitioner to complete a board-approved 2-hour continuing education course on safely and effectively prescribing controlled substances, and to review a patient's PDMP history prior to prescribing a controlled substance. The bill also requires all pain management clinics to register with the DOH or claim an exemption from registration to obtain a certificate of exemption by January 1, 2019.
The major difference between the House and Senate bills is that SB8 contains a prohibition on Prior Authorization and Step Therapy for Medication Assisted Therapy ("MAT") but the House bill does not.
HB21 by Representative Boyd has passed the House and is ready to be taken up in the Senate. The Governor prefers the House bill.
8. DIRECT PRIMARY CARE AGREEMENTS STILL WAITING ON SENATE HB37/SB80
HB37 by Representative Burgess has passed the full House of Representatives. Direct primary care is a medical practice model that eliminates third party payers from the primary care provider-patient relationship. Through these agreements, a patient pays a monthly fee, typically between $25 and $100 per individual, to a primary care provider for defined primary care services.
This bill provides that direct primary care agreements and the act of entering into such an agreement are not insurance and not subject to regulation under the Florida Insurance Code. The bill eliminates any authority of OIR to regulate a direct primary care agreement and exempts a primary care provider from certification or licensing requirements under the Insurance code for marketing, selling or offering to sell an agreement.
The bill also places several requirements on a direct primary care agreement, a few of these include the agreement to:
- Be signed by the primary care provider and the patient;
- Allow either party to terminate the agreement by written notice followed by, at least, a 30-day waiting period;
- Allow immediate termination of the agreement for a violation of physician-patient relationship or a breach of the terms of the agreement.
The Senate companion, SB80 by Lee, unanimously passed its second of three committees and will be up next in Appropriations.
9. TELEHEALTH CONTINUES MOVING IN SENATE SB280/HB793
SB280 by Bean passed its second of four committees this week. The bill defines the term, "telehealth," as the mode of providing health care services and public health care services by a Florida licensed practitioner, within the scope of his or her practice, through synchronous and asynchronous information and telecommunication technologies where the practitioner is located at a site other than the site where the recipient, whether a patient or another licensed practitioner, is located. It establishes practice standards for telehealth services and addresses the prescribing of controlled substances, and the issuance of a physician's certification for prescribing medical marijuana. The bill would clear up the regulatory uncertainty of using telehealth technology.
HB793 by Massullo is waiting to be heard in its first committee.
10. CLASS III INSTITUTIONAL PHARMACY MOVES IN SENATE SB1128/HB675
SB1128 by Stargel, passed its first of three committees this week and creates a new type of institutional pharmacy, the CIass III institutional pharmacy.
The bill authorizes Class III institutional pharmacies to:
- Dispense, distribute, compound, and fill prescriptions for medicinal drugs;
- Prepare prepackaged drug products;
- Conduct other pharmaceutical services for affiliated hospitals and entities under common control, each of which must be permitted to possess medicinal drugs; and
- Provide medicinal drugs, drug products, and pharmaceutical services to an entity under common control that holds an active health care clinic establishment permit.
HB675 by Brodeur, passed its first committee in week two and is waiting to be placed on the agenda in House Appropriations.
11. PHYSICIAN FEE SHARING BILL TRANSFORMED INTO TASK FORCE SB1862/HB425
SB 1862 by Broxson, passed its first of three committees this week. The bill provides two exceptions from the prohibition against physicians entering into fee-splitting arrangements or receiving any commission, bonus, kickback, or rebate for patients referred for health care goods and services. The exceptions created by the bill:
- Allow an allopathic and osteopathic physician to enter into an alternative payment arrangement that otherwise complies with state and federal law; and
- If the compensation payments comply with federal law, allow a physician who is an employee of the entity compensating the physician to receive a share of:
- Profits, collections, or revenues based on the professional services provided by the physician, or directly supervised by the physician, which are provided on behalf of the entity compensating the physician; or
- Overall profit or revenue of the entity compensating the physician as long as the share is not determined in a manner that directly takes into account the volume or value of services ordered by the physician but not performed by the physician or under the supervision of the physician.
HB425 by Representative Plascencia was amended in its first committee and is now a Task Force, whose composition would include the Attorney General, Surgeon General and members appointed by the Department of Health, Legislature, hospitals, health insurers, practitioners, the Florida Bar, investors, medical device manufacturers, and IT specialists, among others.
12. IMMUNIZATION REGISTRY PASSES FINAL HOUSE COMMITEE HB1045/SB1680
HB 1045 by Pigman, passed its final committee this week. The bill requires physicians, physician assistants, and nurses who administer vaccines to children aged 18 or younger or to students, aged 19 to 23, at a Florida College or university health care facility to report the vaccination to the immunization registry. The bill also repeals the ability of a parent or guardian of a child to opt to exclude his or her child from participating in the SHOTS immunization registry.
SB1680 by Montford passed its first committee last week and is now waiting to be scheduled for its second of three committees.
13. SCOPE OF PRACTICE -- PHARMACISTS TO TEST FOR FLU/STREP HB431/SB524
HB 431 by Representative Placenscia is in its last committee and would permit pharmacists to test for Influenza and Streptococcus where proper certifications are obtained and protocols are followed.
SB524 by Senator Brandes is on the agenda in the Health Policy Committee on February 6.
14. SB1594/HB1337 NURSING SCOPE OF PRACTICE
SB 1594 by Brandes passed its second of three committees this week in the Senate. The bill changes the title of "advanced registered nurse practitioner" (ARNP) to "advanced practice registered nurse" (APRN) throughout the Florida Statutes. Instead of being certified to practice in this state as currently required for ARNPs, the bill requires APRNs to be licensed. Also, the bill repeals the clinical nurse specialist (CNS) license and adds the CNS specialty certification into APRN licensure. All authorizations granted to APRNs will be applicable to a CNS.
HB1337 by Pigman had a committee stop removed this week and now has only the House HHS committee remaining. The House has passed similar bills in prior sessions but the Florida Medical Association has always managed to block the expansion of nursing practices in the Senate.
1. DENTAL THERAPY TRANSFORMED INTO STUDY IN HOUSE HB683/SB1498
HB 683 by Perez, passed its first of three committees last week and is on the Health Care Appropriations agenda for February 6. The bill requires the Department of Health to conduct a comprehensive study on the affordability, access, and delivery of dental care in Florida and submit a report of its findings to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives by December 31, 2018. The report must include policy proposals for improving affordability, access, and delivery of dental services, and address implementation burdens and the sustainability of such proposals.
SB 1498 by Brandes is waiting to be scheduled for its first committee.
2. DENTAL STUDENT LOAN REPAYMENT PROGRAM STARTS MOVING HB369/SB764
HB369 by Representative Burton creates the Dental Student Loan Repayment Program (Program) for licensed dentists who practice in specific public health programs located in in dental Health Professional Shortage Areas (population to provider ratio is 5000:1). A typical dentist's debt post-graduation is between $250,000 and $500,000. Subject to the availability of funds, the Department of Health (DOH) may award up to $50,000 per year per eligible dentist in the Program for a minimum of one year and a maximum of five years. The bill has passed its first of three committee.
The companion bill, SB764 by Bean, passed has passed its first committee, and is now in Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education.
1. HOUSE CONTINUES TO WAIT ON SENATE FOR AOB REFORM - SB62/SB1168/HB7015
An onerous version of AOB reform is on the move in the Senate. SB1168, by Senator Steube, passed its first committee of three committees this week. The bill amends current statutes to provide that attorney fees may not be included in the insurer's rate base and may not be used to justify a rate or rate change. SB1168 also amends current law to provide that a misrepresentation, omission, concealment of fact, or incorrect statement on an insurance application may prevent recovery only if the misrepresentation, omission, concealment of fact, or incorrect statement directly relates to the cause of the claim. If the misrepresentation, omission, concealment of fact or incorrect statement directly relates to the cause of the claim, one of the following must apply:
- The misrepresentation, omission, concealment, or statement is fraudulent or is material to the acceptance of the risk or to the hazard assumed by the insurer; or
- If the true facts relative to the loss claimed had been known to the insurer pursuant to a policy requirement or other requirement, the insurer in good faith would not have:
- Issued the policy or contract;
- Issued the policy or contract at a premium rate at least 20 percent higher than the rate actually charged;
- Issued a policy or contract in as large an amount; or
- Provided coverage with respect to the hazard resulting in the loss.
In addition, SB1168 also amends current law to prohibit an insurer from utilizing "managed repair" controls, such as requiring that a particular vendor make repairs to a dwelling insured on the basis of replacement costs. It also prohibits the insurer from even recommending or suggesting a particular vendor to make repairs to a dwelling insured on the basis of replacement costs.
The bill also requires the assignee to provide a copy of the assignment agreement to the insurer within the earlier of 7 days after execution of the agreement, or 48 hours after beginning nonemergency work if the insurer has a facsimile number and e-mail address on its website designated for the delivery of such documents. It allows the insurer to inspect the property at any time. If the insurer fails to attempt in good faith to inspect the property within 7 days after learning of the loss and promptly deliver to the assignee written notice of any perceived deficiency in the assignee's notice or the work being performed; however, the failure may be raised to estop the insurer from asserting that work done was not reasonably necessary or that the notice was insufficient. SB1168 is on the Judiciary committee agenda for next week. We are working to stop this bill from advancing.
Industry's preferred AOB bill is SB62 by Senator Hukill, which has not been scheduled for a committee hearing and is unlikely to advance given the composition of the Banking & Insurance committee in the Senate.
Meanwhile, the Florida House of Representatives AOB reform HB 7015 by Representative Trumbull was sent to the Senate in the first week of the legislative session. While the House version is not a perfect solution, the bill makes significant changes to the way property repair vendors are restricted in their use of an "assignment of benefits" or "AOB." The bill requires disclosures be provided to insureds before entering into an AOB. It also moves to a "loser pays" attorney fee system. The House legislation provides the insured with an opportunity to rescind the assignment within 7 days of entering into the contract with the vendor. Further, the bill increases consumer protections and required vendors to provide written estimates of the work to be completed and required the assignee to notify the insurer of the assignment within 3 days of it being executed. While it would be better to eliminate attorneys' fees to repair vendors altogether, this bill is an improvement over the current system.
In the end, it is unlikely that the House and Senate versions of AOB will match up. But if the House bill moves toward the Senate version, it will be a weaker product and possibly even onerous.
2. AOB MANAGED REPAIR WITH RESTRICTIONS SB1140
SB1140 by Senator Garcia specifies requirements for an insurer offering residential coverage that places a restriction on the policyholder's choice of contractor necessary to repair damage covered by the policy. Those restrictions would require the use of a contractor with an active license, prohibiting the contractor from placing a lien on the covered property for the work performed, ensure that all necessary permits are obtained for the work being performed, and guarantee the quality of work performed by the contractor under the policy for 3 years after all work has been completed.
The bill has not been scheduled for a committee hearing and has no House companion.
3. INSURER REPORTING SB1668
SB 1668 by Senator Farmer requires insurers filing rates with OIR to provide specific information and projections relating to claim litigation in their filings. This information includes costs associated with litigating claims, denied or limited claims that were successfully defended by the insurer in court, denied or limited claims that reached settlement, denied or limited claims that were adjudicated in favor of the insured, plaintiff attorney fees paid in association with denied or limited claims, and defendant attorney fees paid in association with denied or limited claims.
The bill has not been scheduled for a committee hearing and has no House companion.
4. HURRICANE FLOOD INSURANCE DISCLOSURE NOTICE NO LONGER REQUIRES A SIGNATURE HB1011/SB1282
HB1011 by Representative Cruz was amended in its final House committee stop today, removing the requirement for insurers to obtain the applicant's written acknowledgement for the absence of flood coverage. The amended bill passed unanimously in its final house committee. The bill requires Homeowner's property insurance policies to include the following statement in bold 18-point type:
"LAW AND ORDINANCE: LAW AND ORDINANCE COVERAGE IS AN IMPORTANT COVERAGE THAT YOU MAY WISH TO PURCHASE. PLEASE DISCUSS WITH YOUR INSURANCE AGENT."
"FLOOD INSURANCE: YOU MAY ALSO NEED TO CONSIDER THE PURCHASE OF FLOOD INSURANCE. YOUR HOMEOWNER'S INSURANCE POLICY DOES NOT INCLUDE COVERAGE FOR DAMAGE RESULTING FROM FLOOD EVEIN IF HURRICANE WINDS AND RAIN CAUSED THE FLOOD TO OCCUR. WITHOUT SEPARATE FLOOD INSURANCE COVERAGE, YOU MAY HAVE UNCOVERED LOSSES CAUSED BY FLOOD. PLEASE DISCUSS THE NEED TO PURCHASE SEPARATE FLOOD INSURANCE
The companion measure, SB1282, by Taddeo, was favorable in its first committee with a committee substitute that also removes the requirement that the notice be signed by the applicant. The two bills are now very similar.
5. HOUSE HURRICANE CATASTROPHE FUND BILL WAITS ON FIRST SENATE COMMITTEE HEARING HB97/SB1454
The bill, by Santiago, creates an additional coverage option within the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund for property insurers, of 60 percent, adding to the current coverage options of 90, 75, or 45 percent. These percentage options are the amounts that the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund will reimburse an insurer's losses that are caused by hurricanes. This additional coverage option will give insurers more flexibility in developing and funding their risk transfer programs.
The bill also revises the rapid cash build-up factor to fluctuate, up to a limit, based on the projected Fund balance. Additionally, the bill clarifies that emergency assessments be levied only to fund bonds.
Its companion, SB1454 by Brandes, is waiting on its first committee hearing.
6. CITIZENS IT SECURITY/ PUB. REC. AND MEETINGS GETS MOVING IN THE SENATE HB1127/SB1880
SB 1880 by Broxson, unanimously passed through its first committee of three committees this week. The bill is similar to HB 1127 by Representative Lee, which creates public record exemptions for Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens) that are similar to those currently in law for state agencies. The bill provides that records held by Citizens that identify detection, investigation, or response practices for suspected or confirmed IT security incidents, including suspected or confirmed breaches, are confidential and exempt from public record requirements. Also, portions of risk assessments, evaluations, audits, and other reports are exempt.
HB 1127 has yet to be placed on the agenda in its next committee, Government Accountability, which will meet next week on February 8th.
7. CITIZENS CLEARINGHOUSE/PUBLIC RECORDS EXEMPTION SB7012
SB7012, a Senate Banking and Insurance Committee Bill unanimously passed its second of three committees this week, and will be up next in the Rules committee.
The bill reauthorizes the public records exemption for proprietary business information provided by insurers to the Citizens clearinghouse program. Such business information is shared with the clearinghouse to facilitate placing risks with private market insurers instead of Citizens when applicants or current Citizens policy holders seek new or renewal property insurance coverage. This public records exemption is set to be repealed on October 2, 2018. All public records exemptions in law undergo and Open Government Sunshine Review five years after they are enacted.
There is no house companion but this bill will likely be paired with the House Trade Secret public records bills, HB459 and HB461.
1. AAA MEMBERSHIP BILL MOVING IN BOTH HOUSES SB756/HB533
SB756, sponsored by Senator Grimsley, passed it's second of three committees this week and will be up next in the Rules committee.
Meanwhile, HB 533 by Representative Hager has passed all of its House committees and awaits its final reading on the House floor. The bill, advocated for by AAA, allows a property and casualty insurer to condition the sale of insurance on the purchase of motor vehicle services if such services are purchased from a membership organization that has maintained more than one million members in Florida continuously since January 1, 2018 and is affiliated with the insurer.
2. AOB GLASS REFORM REDUCED TO SHATTERING INDUCEMENTS - SB396/HB811
SB 396 by Senator Hukill passed its second committee this week, but then was sent back to its first committee of reference due to an amendment that Banking & Insurance Committee Chair doesn't appear to approve of. The bill must now pass B&I before being presented in its final committee. The bill has been amended several times; the only remaining language provides that a motor vehicle repair shop may not provide an inducement in the form of a rebate, gift, gift card, coupon or any other thing of value in exchange for making an insurance claim for motor vehicle glass replacement or repair.
HB811 by Representative Plasencia, has not been scheduled for a committee hearing, so these bills are likely dead.
3. NAMED-DRIVER EXCLUSION VOTED DOWN IN SENATE SB518/HB329
SB518 by Senator Bean was voted down in the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee last week. The bill would have authorized private passenger motor vehicle policyholders to exclude named members of their household who are of driving age, from all coverages under their policy. The intent of the bill was to provide policyholders who reside in the same household as high-risk individuals the opportunity to potential see a decrease in their rates if they exclude such drivers from all coverages. With the bill defeated in committee, this issue is effectively dead for this session.
HB 329 which had cleared all of its committees, was Temporarily Postponed on January 24th after the Senate voted its version down.
4. TEXTING WHILE DRIVING SPEEDS UP -- CLEARS FINAL HOUSE COMMITEE SB90/HB33
HB33 by Representative Toledo passed it final committee this week and will head to the floor. The bill makes texting while driving, already a traffic infraction, and a primary offense. Today, law enforcement is only able to issue a citation as a secondary offense, meaning they must pull you over for something else, like speeding, and only then may cite you for texting while driving. A primary offense means that law enforcement officers that witness texting while driving may pull a driver over for that offense alone and issue a citation. An amendment was adopted to restrict search and seizure of data on a cell phone unless permission is voluntarily given by the owner.
At its final committee this week a
n amendment was adopted to match an amendment already approved last week on the Senate side that would require law enforcement officers record the race/ethnicity of the violator on the traffic stop report. The data would be sent annually to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and then to the Governor and Legislature.
SB90 by Senator Perry, has passed three of its four committees and will be up next in Senate Appropriations.
5. MOTOR VEHICLE DEALERS SB616/HB595
SB616 by Senator Passidomo has passed two of its three committee stops. The bill expands the definition of "motor vehicle dealer" to include any person who:
- Leases three or more motor vehicles in any 12-month period;
- Engages in possessing, storing, or displaying three or more motor vehicles for retail sale or lease in a 12-month period;
- Advertises motor vehicles held in his or her inventory for retail sale or lease;
- Compensates customers for vehicles at wholesale or retail (trade-ins);
- Negotiates with customers regarding the terms of sale or lease for a motor vehicle;
- Provides test drives of motor vehicles he or she is offering for retail sale or lease; or
- Delivers or arranges for delivery a motor vehicle in conjunction with the retail sale or lease of a motor vehicle.
The bill also prohibits motor vehicle dealers from transferring a manufacturer's statement of origin for a motor vehicle to any person who intends to sell the vehicle in Florida, unless that person is a licensed motor vehicle dealer.
The definition of "motor vehicle broker" is also amended in the bill to clarify that brokers assist the general public in purchasing or leasing a motor vehicle from a dealer and clarifies that a licensed manufacturer, distributor, or importer is not a motor vehicle broker.
Earlier versions of the bill could have been interpreted to allow only motor vehicle dealers to sell extended service warranties, but we worked with the auto dealers to strike this provision from the bill.
The House companion measure, HB595 by Representative Rommel, has passed two of its three committees as well. The bill will be up next in the Government Accountability Committee.
6. AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES IN NEUTRAL WEEK 4 SB712/HB353
HB353 by Representative Brodeur and Fischer has passed two of its three committees and SB712 by Senator Brandes, has also passed two of its three committees. The bills revise various provisions of law relating to autonomous vehicles. The bill provides that a licensed human operator is not required to operate a fully autonomous vehicle and authorizes operation of a fully autonomous vehicle on Florida roads regardless of whether a human operator physically present in the vehicle.
Additionally, the bill authorizes certain television and pre-recorded video displays that are visible from the driver's seat while the vehicle is in motion and authorizes use of a wireless communications device for texting, emailing, or instant messaging, if the vehicle is an autonomous vehicle operating in autonomous mode.
Mandatory minimum PIP coverages were added to both bills in their last committee stops that would apply to self-driving vehicles used for personal or ride-share use. However, the minimum insurance levels in the PIP section of the bill are confusing and still need work.
7. AUTOCYCLES WAITING ON SENATE HB215/SB504
HB 215 by Representative Payne, has passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 105-1 in week 3 and has been sent over to the Senate. The bill creates a definition for autocycles as a three-wheeled motorcycle that has two wheels in the front and one wheel in the back; is equipped with a roll cage or roll hoops, a seat belt for each occupant, antilock brakes, a steering wheel, and seating that does not require the operator to straddle or sit astride it; and is manufactured in accordance with the applicable federal motorcycle safety standards provided in 49 C.F.R. part 571 by a manufacturer registered with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The bill also amends the definition of motorcycle to include an autocycle and exempts a vehicle from the definition of motorcycle in which the operator is enclosed by a cabin.
The Senate companion, SB504 by Senator Perry passed its first of three committees and has not been scheduled for its next committee hearing.
8. DRONE BILL FLYS THROUGH HOUSE COMMITTEES SB624/HB471
HB471 by Representative Yarborough has passed all three of its committee stops and will next be heard on the House floor. The bill amends the definition of "critical infrastructure facility" to include correctional and detention facilities as places an individual may not knowingly or willfully operate a drone. The bill also allows law enforcement to use drones to collect evidence at a crime scene or traffic crash scene. Additionally, the bill allows local or state agencies the ability to use drones in the assessment of damage, flood state, wildfire, or land management.
SB624 by Senator Young, has passed its first of three committees and will be up next week in Senate Judiciary.
1. $100 DOLLAR BILL SB762/HB483
HB483 by Representative Yarborough, amending the insurance Unfair Trade Practices Act, passed its final committee stop last week and was scheduled to be heard the House on the floor calendar for January 31. The bill was temporarily postponed on the 31st, but remains on track to pass the House. Meanwhile, SB 762 Sponsored by Senator Mayfield passed its first of three committee stops last week and will be up next in the Commerce and Tourism Committee.
Current law allows an insurance agent to spend up to $25 to provide advertising or logo type items to their current or prospective customers. Agents are not allowed to take a client to lunch, take their client to a football game, or participate in other usual and customary business practices. The bill would allow agents to spend up to $100 on client entertainment or business related costs without violating Florida Law. Expenditures include meals, tickets, insurance mitigation items like fire extinguishers or home fire inspections, etc.
An amendment was added to the bill in committee in both chambers to allow life insurers to offer complimentary grief counseling or funeral planning services, or discounts on funeral services, in conjunction with the sale of a group policy, without running afoul of the inducement provisions of 626.9541, F.S. An amendment has been filed in the House to remove this language at the bills' next committee stop due to opposition by Independent Funeral Homes.
2. INSURANCE OMNIBUS BILL PASSES FINAL HOUSE COMMITTEE (POLICY EXECUTION) - SB784/HB465
HB465 by Representative Santiago passed it final House committee this week. It makes a number of changes to Florida Insurance Statutes. The bill passed the Insurance and Banking Subcommittee with a strike all amendment that removes the problem language that held the bill up last weekend included language allowing an insurer to issue an insurance policy without being executed via original officer's signature and the policy remains valid despite not being executed.
The bill makes a number of other changes regarding insurance including:
- Foreign Insurer Stock Valuation - provides that the stock of a subsidiary corporation or related entity of a foreign insurer is exempt from certain limitations on valuation and investment requirements for solvency evaluation purposes in certain circumstances.
- Exemption to Adjuster Examination Requirement - provides an exemption to the all-lines adjuster licensing exam to individuals who receive a Claims Adjuster Certified Professional (CACP) designation from WebCE, Inc
- Surplus Lines Export Eligibility - lowers, from $1,000,000 to $700,000, the threshold for exporting a homeowner's property insurance risk to a surplus lines insurer following a single coverage rejection.
- Surplus Lines Insurer Eligibility - repeals a requirement that conflicts with federal law; however, it does not affect the current eligibility determination process implemented in the state.
- Surplus Lines Tax - provides for a uniform surplus lines tax of 4.936 percent of gross premiums, regardless of where the risk is located, rather than the surplus lines tax rate of each state where the risk is located.
- Personal Financial and Health Information Privacy - incorporates a recent amendment of the GrammLeach-Bliley Act for purposes of privacy standards applicable to certain notices required by rules adopted by the Department of Financial Services and the Financial Services Commission.
- Notice of Policy Change - requires that a property and casualty insurer summarize policy changes on the required Notice of Change in Policy Terms that is issued at policy renewal, rather than merely issuing a notice (i.e., requires content more informative than merely the phrase "Notice of Change in Policy Terms").
- Property Insurance Claim Mediation - provides that a third-party assignee may request mediation of property insurance claims; except, an insurer is not required to participate in mediations requested by the assignee.
- Proof of Mailing - permits motor vehicle insurers to use the Intelligent Mail barcode, or similar method approved by the United States Postal Service, to document proof of mailing of certain required notices.
- Transportation Network Company Related Automobile Liability Insurance Exclusions - allows private passenger motor vehicle insurers to generally exclude coverage of transportation network services provided by a named insured, rather than limiting the exclusion to specific motor vehicles. This language was stricken in the 2nd House committee stop.
- Filing Exception for Specialty Insurers - authorizes specialty insurers to overcome a presumption of control regarding acquisition of stocks, interests, and assets of other companies in the same manner as insurers.
- ORSA Protections Strengthened: Confidentiality of Documents Submitted to OIR - expands the confidentiality of documents submitted to the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) under Own-Risk and Solvency Assessment ("ORSA") requirements to make them inadmissible as evidence in any private civil action, regardless of from whom they were obtained, rather than only when they are obtained from OIR.
- Reciprocal Insurer Reserve Requirements - revises unearned premium reserve requirements.
- Electronic Delivery of Policies for HMOs and Warranty - authorizes motor vehicle service agreement companies and health maintenance organizations (HMO) to deliver agreements and HMO contracts, respectively, in the same manner as currently authorized for other types of insurers, including the posting of boilerplate contents on a website and requiring delivery within 60 days, rather than 45 days and 10 days, respectively.
The Senate companion,
SB784 by Senator Brandes, has been scheduled for its first committee hearing on February 6, where a strike-all amendment is planned to move it closer to the House language as it was amended in its first two committees.
3. MEDIATION BILLS REMAINS STALLED SB1034/HB1043
SB 1034 by Senator Steube and HB1043 by Representative Metz are both still Temporarily Postponed in their first committee stops. The bills reduce the settlement authority that an insurance carrier representative must have at a mediation conference and authorizes a circuit court to compel the attendance of interested nonparties at a mediation conference. With respect to the report that a mediator must provide the court at the conclusion of mediation, the bill restricts what a mediator may disclose in its report to the court if the parties reach no agreement, but the bill expands what may be in the report if the parties reach a partial agreement. To the extent that these issues are addressed differently in the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, the Supreme Court may choose to conform the rules to the provisions of the bill. The bill was on the agenda in the Senate Judiciary Committee in weeks 1 through 3 but was temporarily postponed all three times to allow discussion between industry and the sponsors.
4. PUBLIC RECORDS/TRADE SECRETS HELD BY AN AGENCY HB459/HB461
These linked bills, a House priority, recodify trade secret protections in the insurance code and other statute and consolidate the protection in one place. A linked public records protection bill (HB461) is traveling with the main bill (HB459). The bills have passed their first of two committees.
HB459: Provides that certain information related to agency contracts is not confidential or exempt from public records requirements; removes or revises numerous provisions relating to exemptions from public records requirements for trade secrets
Two amendments were adopted in the first committee:
Any contract or agreement to which an agency or an entity subject to this chapter is a party, is a public record, with the exception that confidential or exempt information contained can be redacted prior to release of the contract or agreement if the specific statutory exemption is identified.
(2) Financial information related to any contract or agreement cannot be confidential. Examples include: the amount of money paid, any payment structure or plan, expenditures, incentives, bonuses, fees, and penalties.
HB461: Provides exemption from public record requirements for trade secret held by agency; provides notice requirements; provides process for responding to public record requests; provides exception to exemption; and provides that agency employee is not liable for release of records in compliance with act. . The bill has passed its first of two committees. The bill becomes effective on the same date that HB 459 or similar legislation takes effect.
An amendment was adopted in the first committee providing that a person who submits records (that contains trade secrets) to an agency must claim they contain trade secrets, the person must submit a notice of trade secret to the agency. Failure to submit such notice constitutes a waiver of any claim by such person that the record contains a trade secret. The notice must provide the name, telephone number, and mailing address of the person claiming the record contains a trade secret. Such person is responsible for updating his or her contact information with the agency. Each page with a trade secret must be clearly marked with "Trade Secret." If other parties want to view pages with trade secret information, the agency must notify the submitter, then the submitter must file a notice with the circuit court within 30 days seeking a declaratory judgment.
The companion bills, SB956 and 958 by Senator Mayfield, are similar but not identical, and have not been heard in committee yet.
5. PROHIBITION AGAINST CONTRACTING WITH SCRUTINIZED COMPANIES CLEARS THE HOUSE HB545/SB780
HB545 by Representatives Fine and Moskowitz passed on the Full House this week by a vote of 109-3. The bill amends the provision prohibiting agencies and local governments from contracting with companies on the Israel List or that boycott Israel to apply the prohibition to contracts for goods or services of any amount, rather than only contracts of $1 million or more.
SB780, the Senate companion by Brandes, has passed its first or three committees and is now in the Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government.
6. DEPARTMENT OF FINANCIAL SERVICES AGENCY SB1292/HB1073
The DFS Agency bills, SB1292 by Senator Stargel and HB1073 by Hager, both passed their first committee stops this week.
The bill includes changes to:
- "Exchange of Business" law, reducing from 24 to four the number of times per calendar year than an agent is permitted to place policies with an insurer without being appointed by that insurer. SB 1292 by Stargel and HB 1073 by Hager, are designed to reduce any gamesmanship by various property insurers that are gaming the system to save funds by avoiding agent appointments.
- Electronic images (of warrants, vouchers, or checks) will be deemed as original records.
- Preneed Trust Fund: opposition has surfaced from the Independent Funeral Directors to a provision in the bill which allows monies from the Consumer Protection Trust Fund, which is funded by fees paid by funeral homes to cover Preneed obligations, to be used to upgrade IT equipment.
- Adjusters: independent adjusters completing an online course would be exempt from the exam.
- Managing General Agent changes: the MGA license category would be eliminated but there are other ways to come into compliance. Most states do not have an MGA license category; further, DFS asserts that reciprocal privileges with other states will not be impacted. Thus, these changes are not considered to be substantive.
Both bills will be heard in committee on February 6.
7. HOUSE CONTINUES TO WAIT ON THE SENATE FOR HIGH SCHOOL FINANCIAL LITERACY HB323/SB88
HB323 by Representative Fitzenhagen unanimously passed its first of two committee stops this week. Meanwhile, SB 88 by Senator Hukill was already unanimously enacted by the Senate and would make Florida the 6th state to require a stand-alone course in financial literacy. The bill would require, beginning with the fall 2018 semester, all high school students to complete a one-half credit stand-alone elective in financial literacy, which equates to one hour a day for one semester. The course would cover instruction in opening and managing a bank account, assessing a depository institutions services, balancing a checkbook, basic principles of money management, credit scores, managing debt including credit card debt, completing a loan application, implications of receiving an inheritance, basic principles of insurance policies, computing federal income taxes, local tax assessments, computing interest rates, simple contracts, contesting incorrect billing statements, types of savings and investments, state and federal laws concerning finance.
8. DUTIES OF CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER SB792/HB1421
SB792 by Senator Lee
is a joint resolution to amend the state constitution that would provide, if approved by the voters, additional duties of the state's Chief Financial Officer. Specifically, the resolution would require that the Chief Financial Officer serve as a principal in consensus economic, demographic, and revenue estimating conferences. The resolution provides the Chief Financial Officer the authority to review and certify state contracts in excess of ten million dollars. That threshold is subject to review every four years to account for inflation or deflation.
If passed by a three-fifths vote of each house of the Legislature, the proposal will be voted on at the general election in November 2018; sixty percent of those voting on the measure is required for approval.
This bill has passed its first of four committees.
HB1421 by Stevenson is waiting to be scheduled for its first committee.
1. BENEFITS FOR FIREFIGHTERS DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER SB900/HB695
SB900 by Flores (originally filed by Sen. Jack Latvala) unanimously passed its first of four committees this week and would require employers of full time firefighters to offer cancer insurance coverage to its firefighter employees. These agencies would be allowed to provide coverage through purchased insurance coverages or through a self-insured program.
The bill also provides that upon a diagnosis of cancer, a firefighter is entitled to certain benefits if the firefighter:
- Has been employed for five consecutive years;
- Has not used tobacco products for at least the preceding five years;
- Has not been employed in any other position in the preceding years which is proven to create a higher risk for cancer.
If these conditions are met, the benefits are cancer treatment at no cost to the firefighter and a one-time cash payout of $25,000.
The House companion, HB 695 by Rep. Chris Latvala was workshopped by its first committee this week, House Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee, but not voted on. The bill will still need to pass all three committees that it has been reference to, so is likely dead for this year.
2. PTSD BENEFITS FOR FIRST RESPONDERS HB227/SB376
HB227 by Rep. Wilhite passed the first of its three committees on January 30. The bill would remove limits on mental and nervous coverage to allow expanded treatment for PTSD.
SB376 by Senator Book has passed two of its four committees.
3. COVERAGE OF CLAIMS FOR UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS
SB1568 by Senator Farmer aims to fix what some believe is contradictory language in the Workers Compensation and employment statutes, sometimes resulting in the deportation of undocumented workers who have made workers comp claims.
This bill has not been heard and has no House companion.