Session Dispatch
     By Tim Meenan, NAIFA-Florida Lobbyist 
2020 Florida Session Update
   
WEEK 7    

LIFE AND ANNUITY
 
1. PROTECTION OF VULNERABLE INVESTORS HB813/SB1672
   
HB813 by McClure passed off the House floor on February 20th and now waits on the Senate. The bill would allow an investment advisor to place a 15 day hold on a trade if the investment advisor suspects undue influence on a vulnerable adult. An amendment was adopted with the support of the Florida Bar Elder Law Section.
 
SB1672 by Broxson passed its second of three committees, the Senate Judiciary on February 11th, and will be up next in Senate Rules on March 2nd.
 
These bills are likely to pass.
 
2. MEDICAID LONG-TERM CARE - HB1373/SB1544
   
 
SB1544 by Senator Albritton will be up in its third and final committee stop on March 3rd. The bill would prohibit the Department of Children and Families, in determining Medicaid eligibility, from considering the cash surrender value of certain life insurance policies as assets if certain conditions are met. An amendment was adopted removing the life insurance section of the bill. Further, the bill specifies requirements for a collateral assignment by a Medicaid applicant, requiring the Agency for Health Care Administration to file a claim for the death benefit upon the recipient's death. This bill is being advocated for by the nursing home association. AHCA did not appear to take a position on the bill.
 
HB1373 Webb does not impose the same requirements as SB1544. Instead, it would require an OPPAGA study of the issue. It was amended to remove the study so no longer impacts life insurance. This bill has passed all of its committee stops and heads to the floor next.
 
These bills are likely to pass.

3. TRUSTS HB1089 CARUSO/SB1366
    
HB1089 by Representative Caruso passed its third and final committee stop in House Judiciary on February 18th and will be up next on the House floor. The bill provides that life insurance policies on the grantor's life cannot be used to satisfy the grantor's tax liability.
 
SB1366 by Senator Gruters passed second of three committees on February 19th and is on the agenda for its third stop the Senate Rules committee on March 2nd.
 
These bills are in a position to pass.
 
4. STOLI - The Florida Bankers Association brought language to us seeking to make changes in the premium finance prohibitions regarding life insurance policies that we put into law several years back. The Bankers felt that current law was stifling legitimate premium finance transactions but they did not put forward an alternate version of their language. After a discussion with the Bankers representatives, they decided not to file a bill. But we remain on the alert for amendments.
         
 

LIFE & HEALTH
 
1. GENETIC TESTING HB1189/SBH1564
 
HB1189 by Sprowls would prohibit underwriting based on results of a DNA test in life, long-term care and disability products. HB1189 passed the full house on January 29th. This bill has passed the House in 2 prior sessions.
 
SB1564 by Stargel passed its third and final committee in the Senate Rules Committee with an amendment and will be up next on the Senate floor. The Senate version now provides that a life insurer or long-term care insurer may not cancel, limit, or deny insurance coverage or establish different insurance rates based on the "genetic information" of applicants. Currently, only health insurers are expressly barred from basing coverage decisions on genetic information.  
 
The bill expressly provides that the regulation of the use of genetic information for insurance purposes does not prevent life insurers from accessing an applicant's medical record as part of an application exam and does not prevent life insurers from considering medical diagnoses included in the medical record.
 
The amendment adopted by the Senate on SB1564 in the Judiciary Committee that limits use of genetic testing to only when the test is a diagnosis that has been placed in the insured's medical record. With the bill passing the Senate Rules Committee this week and now on the floor, this bill is close to final passage.

 

HEALTH
 
1. PBM TRANSPARENCY:SB1338/HB7045
 
HB 7045 by the Health Market Reform Subcommittee (which will be shepherded by Rep. Andrade), requires insurer and PBM contracts to require PBMs to report information to the insurer on rebates, revenue through spread pricing, and administrative fees. This information is to be annually submitted by the insurer to Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) for publishing and analysis. The bill amends pharmacy audit requirements for notices, audit periods, and reporting back to the pharmacy. Additionally, the bill requires drug manufacturers to provide advance notice to insurers of any drug price increases, and to report all increases annually to OIR, along with the contributing factors to the increase. The bill passed its final committee stop this week with a strike-all amendment and 2 amendments to the amendment in House Health and Human Services and will be up next on the House floor.
 
SB1338 by Senator Wright increases oversight of PBMs, giving OIR authority to conduct market conduct examinations of PBMs. Revises the definition of the term, "maximum allowable cost;" and creates definitions of the terms, "brand drug," and "generic drug." Requires PBMs to pass through generic rebates to an insurer or HMOs. Requires annual PBM reporting to OIR of aggregated rebates, and differences in payments between retail and mail order pharmacies, and other information. The bill passed the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services on February 25th and will be up next in Senate Appropriations. However, the bill did not make it onto the March 3rd agenda, which is supposed to be the last scheduled Appropriations Committee. This issue will be in play until end of session.  
 
2. ANTI-PBM RESTRICTIONS BACKED BY INDEPENDENT PHARMACY AND PHARMA INITIATIVES HB961/SB1682/SB1444
 
HB961 by Representative Toledo provides that a PBM has a fiduciary duty and obligation to the insureds and to the health insurer that uses the PBM services. Sets prohibitions and restrictions on PBMs, including among others, gag clauses, retroactive claims denials, making referrals, using spread pricing, charging claim adjudication fees, and paying a pharmacy less than an affiliate pharmacy.  Also sets reporting requirements on PBMs and MAC pricing provisions.  Provides that any coinsurance obligations on beneficiaries are to be based on net price of drugs as opposed to list price. HB961 was referred to Health Market Reform Subcommittee; Appropriations Committee; Health and Human Services Committee and has not yet been heard in its first committee.
 
SB1682 by Senator Rodriguez and SB1444 by Senator Harrell are similar bills that set prohibitions and restrictions on PBMs, including among others, gag clauses, retroactive claims denials, making referrals, using spread pricing, charging claim adjudication fees, and paying a pharmacy less than an affiliate pharmacy.  Provides that a PBM has a fiduciary duty and obligation to the insureds and to the health insurer that uses the PBM services. Also sets reporting requirements on PBMs and MAC pricing provisions.  Provides that any coinsurance obligations on beneficiaries are to be based on net price of drugs as opposed to list price.  SB1682 requires drug manufacturers to annually report WAC information for all FDA-approved drugs sold in the state the previous year. Requires reporting when the price of a drug increases by 40 percent or more during the preceding 3 years or by 15 percent in the preceding calendar year, if the WAC was at least $100 for a 30-day supply before the effective date of the increase. Requires PBMs to annually report aggregated rebates collected, passed on to insurers or enrollees, and retained as revenue. The bills were referred to Banking and Insurance; Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services; Appropriations.
 
Neither of these bills have been heard in committee.

3. STEP THERAPY/MEDICAL MANAGEMENT HB373/SB820
  
HB373 by Representative Massullo prohibits policies from requiring an insured to fail to successfully respond to a drug or drugs for stage four advanced, metastatic cancer prior to the approval of a drug prescribed by his or her physician.Requires insurers to provide access to a clear and convenient process to request a step therapy override determination which must be made easily accessible on the health insurer's website. The health insurer must provide a prescription drug for treatment of the medical condition at least until the step therapy exception determination is made. Sets conditions for when step therapy overrides are to be granted expeditiously. Prohibits retroactively denying claims for insured ineligibility if at any time, if the health insurer granted a prior authorization request. Prohibits imposing additional prior authorization requirements on procedures during the perioperative period of another procedure. HB373 was referred to Health Market Reform Subcommittee; Appropriations Committee; Health and Human Services Committee.
 
SB820 by Senator Harrell prohibits policies from requiring an insured to fail to successfully respond to a drug or drugs for stage four advanced, metastatic cancer prior to the approval of a drug prescribed by his or her physician.Requires insurers to provide access to a clear and convenient process to request a step therapy exception determination which must be made easily accessible on the health insurer's website. The health insurer must provide a prescription drug for treatment of the medical condition at least until the step therapy exception determination is made. Sets conditions for when step therapy exceptions are to be granted. Sets restrictions on changes that can be made to prior authorization forms, and requires advanced written notice to affected policyholders. Prohibits retroactively denying claims for insured ineligibility if at any time, if the health insurer granted a prior authorization request. Prohibits imposing additional prior authorization requirements on procedures during the perioperative period of another procedure. Referred to Banking and Insurance; Health Policy; Rules. This bill has not yet been heard.
 
These bills are likely dead for session.
 
CANCER DRUGS - STEP THERAPY HB261/SB672

HB261 by Representative Brown prohibits policies from requiring an insured to fail to successfully respond to a drug or drugs for stage four advanced, metastatic cancer prior to the approval of a drug prescribed by his or her physician.  HB261 was referred to Health Market Reform Subcommittee; Appropriations Committee; Health and Human Services Committee and has not yet been heard.
 
SB672 by Senator Mayfield was referred to Banking and Insurance; Health Policy; and Appropriations. This bill has not yet been heard.
 
These bills are likely dead for session.


FORMULARY- PRIOR AUTHORIZATION HB561/SB696
 
HB561 by Representative Altman requires advance notification on an insurer's website before a formulary change, and mailed notification to anyone currently receiving coverage for drug affected by the change, and their treating physician. If a treating physician deems the drug as medically necessary, the insurer must cover the drug until the end of the policy year, without modifying coverage, including out-of-pocket costs, or restrictive tiers. Further, the bill requires an annual report to OIR on formulary changes; requires insurers to apply any third-party payments towards an insured's out-of-pocket expenses to be applied towards the deductible or out-of-pocket maximum; and requires annual reporting of aggregated rebates by PBMs. HB561 was referred to Health Market Reform Subcommittee; Appropriations Committee; and Health and Human Services Committee. This bill has not yet been heard.
 
SB696 by Senator Mayfield was referred to Banking and Insurance; Health Policy; and Appropriations. This bill has not yet been heard.
 
These bills are likely dead for session.

4. PRICE TRANSPARENCY HB1205/SB1626
 
HB1205 by Representative Rodriguez prohibits gag clauses on price transparency with patients in contracts between insurers and providers. Prohibits health insurer from requiring insured to make payment for a covered service that exceeds the cash price in the absence of coverage. HB1205 passed off of the House floor on February 26th and now waits on the state. The bill was passed with an amendment that breaks out individual, small group and HMO.
 
SB1626 by Senator Flores was referred to Banking and Insurance; Health Policy; and Rules. The bill was placed on the Banking and Insurance agenda for February 11th, but was not considered after the committee ran out of time due to most of the committee time being spent on the bad faith amendment to the Senate Omnibus bill. This bill has not been heard.
 
These bills are likely dead for session.

5. INSULIN CO-PAY CAP HB109/SB116
 
HB109 by Duran requires policies to cap insured's monthly cost-sharing obligation for covered prescription insulin drugs at $100 for a 30-day supply, regardless of the amount or type of insulin needed to fill the insured's prescription. HB109 was referred to Health Market Reform Subcommittee; Appropriations Committee; and Health and Human Services Committee. This bill has not been heard.
 
SB116 by Senator Cruz was reported favorably by the Banking and Insurance Committee and is now in the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government; Appropriations. The next stop after that is the Appropriations committee.
 
These bills are likely dead for session.

6. NONOPIOID PRIOR AUTHORIZATION SB298 
 
SB298 by Farmer would require failure of an opioid prior to use of a Nonopioid alternative. This bill has not been heard and has no companion so is likely dead.
 
7. DRUG AFFORDABILITY HB1293/SB1724
 
HB1293 by Representative Good establishes a Prescription Drug Affordability Commission to review prescription drug costs and inform public. Requires drug manufacturers to notify the Commission of increases in WAC of more than 10% or $3000 for a course of treatment, brand drugs with a WAC of over $30,000, introduction of biosimilars with a WAC not 15% lower than the reference drug, and advance notice of other increases with justification. If the commission finds that the cost of the prescription drug under review creates excess costs for payors and consumers, the commission shall establish the rate that must be billed to, and paid by, payors, pharmacies, health care providers, wholesalers, distributors, and uninsured and insured consumers. Also contains provisions prohibiting individual policies from establish differentials in premium rates for such coverage based on a preexisting condition. HB1293 was referred to Health Market Reform Subcommittee; Appropriations Committee; and Health and Human Services Committee. This bill has not been heard.
 
HB1295 (Good-D) Exempts from public meeting requirements portions of meetings of Prescription Drug Affordability Commission containing trade secrets. Referred to Health Market Reform Subcommittee; Oversight, Transparency and Public Management Subcommittee; and Health and Human Services Committee. This bill is linked to HB1293 because public records exemptions are required to be in a separate bill. It has not been heard.
 
SB1724 by Senator Cruz was referred to Banking and Insurance; Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. This bill has not been heard.
 
These bills are likely dead for session.

8. AIR AMBULANCE HB747/SB736
 
HB747/SB736 requires insurers to provide reasonable reimbursement to air ambulance services for covered services. "Reasonable reimbursement" means reimbursement that considers the actual cost of services rendered, the operation of an air ambulance service by a county which operates entirely within a designated area of critical state concern as determined by the Department of Economic Opportunity, and in-network reimbursement. The term does not include billed charges for the cost of services rendered.
 
HB747 by Representative Williamson passed of the House floor this week and now waits on the Senate to pass their bill. The bill was previously amended in committee with an amendment to clarify that co-pays/coinsurance made by the insured constitute payment in full.
 
SB736 by Senator Diaz was referred to Banking and Insurance; Health Policy; Rules. It passed its second of three committees this week the Senate Health Policy on February 11th and will be up next in Senate Rules on March 2nd.
 
These bills are very likely to pass.

9. MANDATES: 
 
Infant Eye Exams HB67/SB46
 
SB46 (Book-D) requires coverage for children under health insurance policies to include eye examinations for newborns and infants to detect pediatric congenital and ocular abnormalities and developmental abnormalities. SB 46 was referred to Health Policy; Banking and Insurance; Appropriations. The bill passed its first of three committees on February 11th in Health Policy and will be up next in Senate Banking and Insurance. An amendment was adopted to limit the bill to an educational brochure.
 
HB67 was referred to Health Market Reform Subcommittee; Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee; Health and Human Services Committee. Neither of these bills have been heard.
 
These bills are unlikely to pass.

Hearing Aid Coverage HB125/SB1006
 
HB125 by Representative Brannan requires hearing aid coverage for children up to 21 years of age at a minimum coverage amount of $3,500 per ear within a 24-month period.  HB 125 was referred to Health Market Reform Subcommittee; Appropriations Committee; and Health and Human Services Committee. This bill has not been heard.
 
SB1006 by Senator Baxley was referred to Banking and Insurance; Health Policy; and Appropriations. It passed its second of three committees this week the Senate Health Policy Committee on February 11th and will be up next in Senate Appropriations.
 
These bills are unlikely to pass.

Diagnostic Mammograms HB263/SB416
 
HB263 by Representative prohibits plans from applying cost-sharing requirements for a diagnostic mammogram, breast magnetic resonance imaging scan, or breast ultrasound, respectively, that is ordered by a health care provider. HB263 was referred to Health Market Reform Subcommittee; Appropriations Committee; and Health and Human Services Committee.
 
SB416 by Representative Berman was referred to Health Policy; Banking and Insurance; and Rules.
 
These bills are unlikely to pass.

Epipens SB1196
 
SB1196 (Cruz-D) requires coverage for epinephrine injectors for children 18 years of age or younger. Referred to Banking and Insurance; Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government; Appropriations. Neither bill has been heard.
 
These bills are unlikely to pass.

10. MENTAL HEALTH PARITY HB939/SB706/SB7012
 
HB939 by Representative Slosberg requires individual and group insurers to comply with the federal mental health parity coverage laws. Requires annual reporting of medical necessity criteria for mental or nervous disorder benefits, substance use disorder benefits, and medical and surgical benefits, as well as all nonquantitative treatment limitations (NQTLs) applied. Requires Medicaid managed care plans to submit annual report to AHCA relating to parity between mental health and substance use disorder benefits and medical and surgical benefits. HB 939 was referred to Health Market Reform Subcommittee; Appropriations Committee; and Health and Human Services Committee.
 
SB706 by Senator Rouson was referred to Banking and Insurance; Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services; Appropriations. Neither bill has been heard.
SB7012 (By Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs) - Requires insurer certification of compliance with the requirements of the MHPAEA and benefits may not be provided in a more restrictive manner. The bill passed its third and final committee on February 27th in the Senate Appropriations and will wait to be heard on the floor. It does not have a House companion measure so its unclear what bill it matches up to.

11. E-PRESCRIBING HB1103/SB1830
 
HB1103 by Representative Mariano amends e-prescribing mandate to allow written prescription only when electronic prescribing is not available due to a temporary technological or electrical failure that is not reasonably within the control of the prescribing practitioner, and such failure is documented in the patient record. Prohibits e-prescribing from interfering with a patient's right to choose their pharmacy. Allows e-prescribing software to display information regarding a payor's formulary if nothing is designed to preclude or make more difficult the selection of any particular pharmacy by a patient or the selection of any certain medicinal drug by a prescribing practitioner or his or her agent. HB1103 was referred to Health Quality Subcommittee; and Health and Human Services Committee. It has passed the Health and Human Services committee on January 30th and passed off the House floor on February 26th.
 
SB1830 was referred to Health Policy; Innovation, Industry, and Technology; Rules. This bill has not yet been heard.
 
These bills are not likely to pass.


12. CREDENTIALING SB1684 
 
SB1684 (Gruters-R) requiring the FSC, in consultation with the AHCA, to adopt a standardized provider credentialing form by rule. Provides for expedited credentialing for a provider joining a medical group already in network. If an applicant does not meet the plan's credentialing requirements the insurer may recover from the applicant or the applicant's medical group an amount equal to the difference between payments for in-network benefits and out-of-network benefits. Provides that during the expedited process, an enrollee is not responsible, and must be held harmless, for the difference between the in-network payment to the applicant and the out-of-network charge of the applicant or the applicant's medical group for the service provided to the enrollee.  This bill was referred to Banking and Insurance; Health Policy; Appropriations and has not been heard.

13. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH/MEDICAL LICENSURE COMPACT HB1143/ SB230
 
HB1143 (Gregory-R) implements Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, and requires FSC to adopt standard form for verification of credentials of health care professionals. State medical boards that participate in the Compact retain the jurisdiction to impose an adverse action against a license to practice medicine in that state issued to a physician through the procedures in the Compact. HB1143 was referred to Health Quality Subcommittee; Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee; Health and Human Services Committee. The bill passed its second of three on February 11th. A proposed committee substitute was adopted which removed the credentialing section from the bill.
 
SB230 revamps various provider licensure provisions under the jurisdiction of Department of Health. Credentialing provisions have been removed from this bill. It's now on the Senate Rules agenda for March 2nd.
 
14. SHARED SAVINGS INCENTIVES HB1279/SB1836
 
HB1279 (Yarborough-R) amends shared savings incentives enacted in 2019 to include direct cash or equivalent to insureds. The bill passed its third and final committee stop on February 18th in House Health and Human Services and will be up next on the House Floor.
 
SB1836 (Bean-R) provides that if an insured obtains a covered health care service or prescription drugs from an out-of-network provider or pharmacy at a cost that is the same or less than the in-network average that the health insurer pays, the health insurer must apply the payment made by an insured toward the insured's deductible and out-of-pocket maximum as if the health care service had been provided by an in-network provider. This bill contains various provisions impacting both the private market and State Employees Group Plan. Referred to Governmental Oversight and Accountability; Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government; Appropriations. This bill passed its first committee the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability committee on February 17th with an amendment to strike the state group health plan provisions. The bill will be up next in Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment and General Government.
 
The provisions of these bills have been added to the AHCA bill, HB731 & SB1726.


15. MEDICAID EXPANSION HB219/SB164/SJR224/HJR247
 
HB219 (Watson-D)/SB164 (Thurston-D)/SJR224 (Taddeo-D)/HJR247 (Polo-D) provides for the expansion of Medicaid under the ACA. HB219 was referred to Health Market Reform Subcommittee; Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee; and Health and Human Services Committee. SJR224 and SB164 were referred to Health Policy; Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services; Appropriations; Rules. These bills have not been heard and are not likely to pass.
 
16. MEDICAID WORK REQUIREMENTS SB1808/HB1367

 
SB1808 (Baxley-R)/HB1367 (Tomkow-R) directs AHCA to seek federal approval for Medicaid work requirements consistent with TANF requirements. SB1808 was referred to Children, Families, and Elder Affairs; Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services but has never been heard. HB1367 was referred to Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee; Appropriations Committee; Health and Human Services Committee. The Senate bill has yet to be heard in its first committee. The House bill passed its second of three committee stops this week the House Appropriations committee and will be up next in House Health and Human Services.
 
These bills are not likely to pass.
   
17. MEDICAID HEALTHY KIDS BENEFIT CAPS HB6031/SB348 
 
HB6031 (Pigman-R)/SB348 (Bean-R) removes lifetime maximum cap on covered expenses for child enrolled in Florida Healthy Kids program. HB6031 was referred to Health Quality Subcommittee; Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee; Health and Human Services Committee. This bill passed its third and final committee on February 12th and will be up next on the House floor.
 
SB348 was referred to Health Policy; Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services; Appropriations. This bill unanimously passed off of the Senate floor on February 13th and the Senate is now waiting on the House.
 
These bills are in a position to pass.


18. MEDICAID DISABILITY WAIVER SB82
 
SB82 (Bean-R) directs the state to contract out parts of the Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) waiver, known as iBudget, to allow more flexibility to provide services. This includes consolidating support-coordination services currently delivered by agencies and individuals throughout the state. The bill requires state officials to find an outside group to evaluate if funds provided through iBudget should be increased. The bill also allows AHCA to seek federal approval to implement a payment rate for Medicaid intermediate care facilities serving individuals with developmental disabilities who may not be appropriate for placement in community settings. The bill passed its second of three committees of reference on January 28th and then passed its final committee stop in Senate Appropriations on February 27th. Meanwhile, no House companion measure has materialized and the House has expressed reservations about acting this session.
 
19. ESTIMATES FOR NONEMERGENCY PROCEDURES HB959/SB1664
 
HB959 by Representative Duggan, which is entitled "Medical Billing," would require facilities to provide estimates to patients in an effort to make hospital medical billing more predictable for patients.  The measure would require hospitals to tell patients at the time of admission or scheduling how much nonemergency procedures would cost. Current law requires those estimates to be provided only if a patient asks for them.  Any hospital that exceeds an estimate by more than 10 percent would need to detail reasons for the overage to the patient. The bill also would require facilities to establish a dispute process for patients and post that information prominently on their websites.  The facility would have to respond to initial disputes within seven business days.  The measure would require hospitals to go through a legal or judicial proceeding before placing a lien on a patient's house or garnishing their wages. The bill would require hospitals to determine whether a patient qualifies for financial assistance before taking such collection actions.
 
HB959 was approved on the House floor this week, but the Senate companion SB1664 by Senator Albritton has not yet been heard.  
 
These bills are unlikely to pass.

 
DENTAL
 
1. DENTAL THERAPY HB979/SB152
 
HB979 by Representative Plascenia authorizes Medicaid to reimburse for dental services provided by certain mobile dental units; creates the Council on Dental Therapy; defines the term dental therapist; requires reports to the Legislature.  This bill has yet to be heard in its first of three committees of reference.
 
SB152 by Senator Brandes is the companion measure. This bill was temporarily postponed in Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs on February 4th and was on the agenda for the same committee on February 11th, but was temporarily postponed after not being heard in that committee.
 
These bills are unlikely to pass.

2. HEALTH ACCESS DENTAL LICENSES HB1461/SB1296
 
HB1461 by Representative Brown would allow out of state dentists to practice in certain health access settings by saving an existing program from repeal. This bill was passed off of the full House floor this week and now waits on the Senate.
 
SB1296 by Senator Berman is on the Agenda in its second of three committees the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services on February 25.


3. DENTAL HEALTH HB1319 by Robinson
           
   
 
HB1319 by Representative Robinson Authorizes licensed dentists to order impression materials for self-administration by a patient; authorizes intraoral or extraoral photography as remediable & delegable tasks under certain circumstances. This bill passed its first of three committees on February 3rd, the House Health Quality Subcommittee, and will be up next in House Health and Human Services. However, there is no Senate companion.
 
These bills are unlikely to pass.
 
 
PROPERTY
 
1. CONTINGENCY RISK MULTIPLIER SB914/HB7071
 
SB914 by Senator Brandes passed its second of three committees, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee on February 4th. The bill codifies into state law the federal precedent regarding the award of attorney fees using the lodestar amount and contingency fee multipliers. The bill creates a strong presumption that the lodestar amount is sufficient and reasonable. The bill goes further to provide that the sufficient and reasonable presumption is only rebuttable in rare and exceptional circumstances by evidence that competent counsel could not be retained in a reasonable manner. Only when such evidence is presented to the court could a contingency risk multiplier be applied in property insurance litigation. Unfortunately, SB914 did not make it on the agenda of what is supposedly the last Rules Committee agenda on March 2nd.
 
HB 7071, the companion measure, has passed its last committee stop in the House Commerce Committee this week and will be up next on the House floor. The bill is in line with the senate bill which creates a strong presumption that the lodestar fee is sufficient.

 
2. CONSTRUCTION DEFECT HB295/SB1488
 
HB295 by Representative Santiago passed the House Civil Justice committee on January 29th and was temporarily postponed this week in House Commerce. The bill makes several changes to the construction defect claim process, some of those changes include:
  • Requiring the claimant to sign the notice of claim;
  • Tolling statutory requirements until the requirements for the notice of claim are met;
  • Requiring more specificity to sign the notice of claim;
  • Removing the authority for an HOA to file a notice of claim for homeowners;
  • Lengthening the time for a response to a claim from 15 to 45 days;
  • Requiring a claimant to serve notice of denial of a claim or no response to the claim to all parties, requiring nonbinding arbitration of construction defect suits;
  • Requiring a special verdict form for construction defect suits with allocations;
  • Limiting the scope of defense to work performed by the insured;
  • Requiring claimants to repair and set out the required payment.
 
Meanwhile, SB1488 by Senator Gruters also awaits its first of three committee hearings.
 
These bills are unlikely to pass.

 
 
3. SINKHOLE AND CATASTROPHIC GROUND COVER HB399/SB904
 
HB399 by Representative Mariano has yet to be heard in its first of three committees the House Insurance & Banking committee. Revises the definition catastrophic ground cover collapse for insurance coverage purposes. The bill provides circumstances under which damage of a structure or building constitutes a specified loss. This bill has not gotten any traction this session.
 
SB904 by Senator Hooper has yet to be placed on an Agenda in its first committee.
 
These bills are unlikely to pass.

4. COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS HB623/SB1154
 
HB399 by Representative Shoaf has passed its third and final committee stop on February 27th and will be up next on the House floor. The bill prohibits condominium owners' insurance policies from providing rights of subrogation against the association under certain circumstances.
 
SB1154 by Senator Baxley passed its second of three committee stops this week in Senate Community Affairs and will be up next in Senate Rules. However, since the bill did not make it onto the March 2nd Rules Committee agenda, which is the last (currently) scheduled meeting, the bill could be in trouble.
 
5. FLORIDA BUILDING CODE SB710
 
SB710 by Senator Albritton makes certain changes to the Florida Building Code that would require the entire envelope of a building be impact resistant and require the use of high wind-resistant construction materials for the construction of:
  • Multistory residential group R1 or multistory R2;
  • New residential construction that is:
    • Within 10 miles of the coastal mean high-water line and where the ultimate design wind speed is 130 miles per hour or greater; or
    • In areas where the ultimate design wind speed is 140 miles per hour or greater.
  • New residential construction in the high-velocity hurricane zone, as defined in the code; and
  • Buildings designated or used as hurricane shelters.
 
This bill has not yet been heard and has no House companion at this time.
 
These bills are unlikely to pass.

 
6. CITIZENS MONROE COUNTY RATE CAP SB1204
 
SB1204 by Senator Flores has yet to be heard in its first of three committees, the Senate Banking and Insurance committee. The bill provides that a single policy issued by Citizens does not exceed 5 percent for any single wind-only policy issued by the corporation to an insured located within a county in which during the preceding 15 years the amount of premiums paid by all policyholders in the county exceeded the total amount of claims paid to all policyholders in the county by more than $700 million. This provision begins on January 1, 2021. This bill does not change the existing law that caps Citizens policies at a 10 percent annual increase. Both the existing law and this bill excludes sinkhole coverage for the cap.
 
This bill has no House companion at this time so is unlikely to pass.

 
AUTO
 
1. PIP REPEAL SB771/HB378
 
SB378 by Senator Lee passed in its first committee stop, the Senate Infrastructure and Security committee and was on the agenda on February 6th in Senate Banking and Insurance. The bill however never came up as the committee ran out of time after they spent most of the two-hour committee on a bad faith amendment to the Senate Omnibus bill (SB1334). After all the deliberation, the bill ultimately was temporarily postponed for a vote because it would've died on a 4-4 tie vote. The bill repeals PIP and replaces it with mandatory $25,000/$50,000 bodily injury, $10,000 property damage, and optional Med Pay. The bill requires mandatory med pay offers of $5,000 and $10,000 with no deductible and an additional $5,000 death benefit. The bill also sets a maximum Med Pay deductible at $500.
 
The bill also contains named driver exclusion language that would allow private passenger motor vehicle policies to exclude named drivers from certain coverages if specifically excluded by name on the dec page or by endorsement and specifies when a named driver cannot be excluded.
 
HB771 by Representative Grall passed its third and final committee stop this week and will be up next on the House floor.
 
The PIP issue is likely to be in play until session ends.

 
2. PEER-TO-PEER CAR SHARING SB478/HB723/HB377
 
HB723 by Representative Fischer passed its third and final committee stop on February 27th and will be up next on the House floor. The bill defines peer-to-peer or car-sharing and provides insurance requirements for peer-to-peer car sharing. It also allows insurers insuring the shared vehicle owner to exclude coverage for use of the vehicle in car sharing and provides that the car sharing program and vehicle owner are not vicariously liable for the actions and damages of the driver during periods of car sharing use. Amendments were adopted at the behest of APCI to conform the bill to the NCOIL model.
 
Meanwhile SB478 by Senator Perry also passed its first committee stop the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology committee this week and was temporarily postponed in the Committee for the third week in a row and the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee is not scheduled to meet again at this time. This bill requires certain financial responsibilities in addition to also setting definitions and providing for insurance requirements. This bill is similar to HB377 by Representative Latvala which passed its second of three committees this week and will be up next in House Commerce.
 
These bills could be running out of steam.

 
3. AUTOGLASS AOB SB312/HB169
 
SB312 by Senator Stewart died in its first committee of reference the Senate Banking and Insurance committee after being reported unfavorably after a 4-4 split. The bill was proposing to prohibit motor vehicle repair shops and their employees from offering an inducement to a customer in exchange for making an insurance claim for motor vehicle glass replacement or repair. This prohibition also applied to individuals who are not employees of the repair shop, but are compensated for their solicitation of insurance claims.
 
HB169 had yet to be heard in its first House committee Insurance and Banking. While some talks are underway to revive the glass issue in some form on the Senate side, this issue is likely dead for this session.


4. ELECTRIC BICYCLES SB1148/HB971
 
SB1148 by Senator Brandes passed its third and final committee this week and will be up next on the Senate floor. The bill would legalize the use of electric scooters in the same manner that regular bicycles are regulated. The bill would require manufacturers to place a permanently affixed label in a prominent location identifying the motor's top assisted speed and motor wattage. It also would have to include the bike's classification number. Electric Bicycles have three classifications:
Class 1: contain a motor that only provides assistance while a user is pedaling and ceases assistance when the e-bike reaches speeds up to 20 miles per hour;
Class 2: uses a motor that can propel the bike whether or not the user is pedaling and can power the bike up to 20 miles per hour;
Class 3: Can power the bike whether or not the user is pedaling and can assist with speeds up to 28 miles per hour.
 
The bill also protects home rule by allowing local governments to approve and implement restriction on e-bikes for public safety reasons.
 
The House companion HB971 by Representative Michael Grant passed its third and final committee this week and will be up next on the House floor.

5. TOWING AND IMMOBILIZING VEHICLES AND VESSELS SB1332/HB133
 
HB133 by Representative McClain passed off the House floor on February 20th and now waits on the Senate bill. The bill authorizes a county or municipality to regulate the rates for the towing or immobilization of vessels by establishing a maximum rate that may be charged for towing or immobilization of a vessel. The bill prohibits a county or municipality from enacting a rule or ordinance that imposes a fee or charge on authorized wrecker operators or a towing business.
 
Additionally, the bill prohibits a county or municipality from enacting an ordinance or rule requiring an authorized wrecker operator or towing business to accept credit cards as a form of payment. This prohibition would not apply to an ordinance or rule adopted before January 1, 2020.
 
SB1332 by Hooper passed in its third and final committee this week and will be up next on the Senate floor.

6. TRANSPORTATION NETWORK COMPANIES HB1039/SB1352
 
HB1039 by Representative Rommel passed its final committee stop this week in House State Affairs and will be up next on the House floor. The bill allows for companies like Uber and Lyft to advertise on their cars. This would be through signs on the cars that would be restricted to no taller than 20 inches and no longer than 54 inches. Regardless of the size, the sign could not extend beyond the rear or front windshield or otherwise impair the driver's vision. The bill also adds a category for luxury ground transportation network companies that requires them to follow the same laws as traditional transportation network companies.
 
SB1352 by Senator Brandes is on the agenda for Senate Rules on March 2nd, this is the bills final committee stop in the Senate before heading to the floor.



GENERAL INSURANCE
 
1.   INSURANCE OMNIBUS (POLICY EXECUTION) SB1334/HB359
 
HB359, by Representative Santiago, passed its second and final committee stop on February 20th and will be up next on the House floor. The bill has several components to it including the following:
 
  • Requiring Civil Remedy Notice delivery to the name and address of insurer via email and gives insurers 60 days from receipt of the CRN to pay damages or correct the alleged violation and changes statute of limitations to 60 days after insurer receives notice and appraisal invoked;
  • Extends the deemer date for rate and form filings to the end of the next business day if the date falls on a weekend or holiday;
  • Changes condo unit owner's assessment coverage trigger from date of loss rather than date of assessment by the condo association;
  • Prohibits OIR from releasing trade secret data included in an aggregate format, in the OIR annual report, or data that can be individually extrapolated;
  • Changes the electronic signature on an odometer disclosure submitted by an insurer for a salvage-certificate of title from Level 3 to Level 2 which removes the requirement of a multi-factor remote network authentication of the signature and replaces it with a single factor authentication;
  • Worker's comp wire transfer provisions;
  • Service of Process - insurers must designate email address and point of contact;
  • Adopts Travel Insurance NAIC Model Act; and
  • Reduces auto insurance notice of cancellation for nonpayment of premium from 60 to 30 days.
 
      SB1334, by Senator Brandes, was temporarily postponed again in its first of three committee stops February 11th due to adoption of a controversial Bad Faith Reform amendment. However, with the amendments, HB359 now matches up to SB1606 by Perry.

2.   MINI INSURANCE OMNIBUS SB1606/HB895
 
HB895, by Representative Santiago, passed its third and final committee this week in the House Commerce Committee. The bill had a strike all amendment adopted that struck all the previous components that had included the following:
 
  • Authorizing the Florida Department of Highway Safety to transition the State's insurance verification system from a database to a web based real-time system upon receiving a specific appropriation this session or in the future;
  • Expands the Florida Insurance Code to regulate the transaction of travel insurance using the Travel Insurance Model Act from the NAIC;
  • Allows insurers to recover from the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund the value of the "force placed" insurance, as an alternative to the last reported value associated with the property owner's lapsed insurance policy;
  • Requires surplus lines agents to obtain coverage rejections from Florida insurers before "exporting" a policy to a surplus lines insurer;
  • Allows a licensed general lines agent or personal lines agent to sell a motor vehicle serving agreement, service warranty agreement, or home warranty contract without a separate salesperson or sales representative license;
  • Requires the data for insolvent workers compensation insurance companies to be included in the annual rate filing for the State of Florida. Also allows for loss data on insureds to be transmitted to the State's rating agent; and
  • The 2019 Legislature authorized insurers to reduce the amount of premium collected from two months to one month. That provision however, did not also reduce the two-month cancellation requirement to one month. This created a situation wherein an insurer collects premium for one month but must carry the policy for two months even if the insured stopped paying premium.
 
Some of the stricken provisions are contained in other bills.
 
When the bill was amended to strike all of the previous provisions and it replaced them with language that would limit what can be paid for emergency care provided to auto-accident victims and increasing restrictions on bad faith lawsuits. These provisions would place new limits on amounts charged for providing emergency care in hospitals to people with PIP. The amended version includes the following:
 
  • Provides a 60-day safe harbor for bad faith;
  • Requires a demand letter for 3rd party bad faith; and
  • Requires a 3rd party claimant to act in good faith;
  • Includes interpleader for multiple party claims;
  • Requires detailed PIP demand letter; and
  • Caps fees at 200% of Medicare for emergency healthcare services.
 
SB1606 by Senator Perry passed its second of three committee stops, with an amendment contains most of the provisions of HB359. The bill has been placed on the agenda in Senate Appropriations for March 3rd.

3.   DFS CONSUMER PROTECTION SB1492/HB1137
 
HB1137 by Representative Clemons passed its last committee stop and is headed to the floor. The amended bill covers a number of issues including the following:
 
  • Consumer Credit Scores and Security Freezes-The bill eliminates consumer reporting agencies' ability to charge a fee for a personal identification number used to place a security freeze. The bill requires that insurers notify applicants of the availability of DFS's financial literacy resources at the time they notify them of the use of credit scores and reports for underwriting purposes.
  • Consumer Services-The bill requires that licensees provide documents when responding to written requests from DFS or the Office of Insurance Regulation and it eliminates obsolete penalties.
  • Professions-The bill establishes insurance adjusting firms' licensure requirements and penalties for licensees who aid and abet unlicensed individuals, adds grounds upon which DFS may revoke or suspend licenses, and permits suspension of a title insurance agent's license for two years
  • Agency Names-DFS may disapprove insurance agency names when they may mislead the public, but DFS seeks the specific authority to disapprove agency names that contain "Medicare" and "Medicaid." This bill provides the authority for DFS to disapprove agency names containing those words.
  • Industrial Class Insurers-The bill amends the laws regarding industrial life insurance, small policies written upon individual lives, so that no such policies may be sold in Florida after July 1, 2020.
  • Policyholder Rights-The bill extends the time that a policyholder has to cancel a contract with a public adjuster, and amends the Homeowners Claim Bill of Rights and property insurer claim's handling requirements, including policyholder notification of a change in adjuster.
  • Export to Surplus Lines-The bill mandates that the notification regarding the export of a policy to the surplus lines market, currently given only to commercial policyholders, be given to all policyholders.
  • Unfair or Deceptive Acts-Sliding, an insurance agent's failure to fully disclose the details of, and obtain consent to, purchase of service and products, is prohibited. The bill adds two grounds, based upon effectuating an entire insurance policy without consent, to the list of acts that constitute sliding.
  • Foreign Venue Clauses Prohibited-Florida law does not mandate that dispute resolution for policies sold in Florida, and insuring property in Florida, on the admitted or surplus lines markets, occur within the state. The bill amends the law so that dispute resolution for such policies must occur in Florida for real property that is only located in this state.
  • Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA) Deductible-Currently, a policyholder whose claim is covered by FIGA must pay a $100 deductible on that claim. The bill eliminates that deductible.
  • Unclaimed Property-Florida law provides a detailed framework for the recovery of unclaimed property held by DFS. The bill creates uniform forms for use by claimants' representatives involved in the recovery process and caps the fees such representatives may charge.
 
The Senate version of the bill SB1492 by Senator Wright passed its third and final committee stop this week in Senate Rules and will be up next on the Senate floor. The committee approved a committee substitute that aligned it with the House bill, but then an additional amendment was put on the bill that would allow a company to provide a list of recommended or preferred vendors to the insured for repairs to the dwelling only if requested by the insured.
 
These bills are likely to pass.

 
 
4. TRADE SECRET HB799/HB801/SB1532/SB1534
 
   
HB799(HB801) by Representative Gregory passed its third and final committee stop on February 13th and will be up next on the House floor. The bill, which is linked to the passage of HB 801 or similar legislation, creates a public record exemption for trade secrets that applies to most agencies that are subject to public record requirements.
 
The bill defines the term "trade secret" to have the same meaning as the definition currently codified in the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, which includes information that is a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process that:
  • Derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by, other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use; and
  • Is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.
 
However, the bill specifically excludes from the definition the following information related to any contract or agreement, or an addendum thereto, with an agency:
  • The parties to the contract or agreement, or an addendum thereto.
  • The amount of money paid, any payment structure or plan, expenditures, incentives, bonuses, fees, or penalties.
  • The nature or type of commodities or services purchased.
  • Applicable contract unit prices and deliverables.
 
The bill requires a person who submits a record claimed to contain a trade secret to an agency to mark the record clearly with the words "trade secret" and to submit with the record a notice verifying that the record contains a trade secret. Verification occurs by signing a written declaration under penalty of perjury. Failure to submit the notice constitutes a waiver of any claim by the submitter that the record contains a trade secret.
 
The bill authorizes an agency to disclose a trade secret, together with the notice of trade secret, to an officer or employee of another agency or governmental entity whose use of the trade secret is within the scope of his or her lawful duties and responsibilities.
 
The bill specifies that an agency employee who, while acting in good faith and in the performance of his or her duties, releases records pursuant to the process created by the bill is not liable, civilly or criminally, for release of the records.
 
The bill also specifies that the public record exemption does not apply to research institutes created or established in law, divisions of sponsored research at state universities, or technology transfer centers at Florida College System institutions.
 
The bill provides a public necessity statement as required by the Florida Constitution, specifying that the public record exemption is necessary to protect trade secret information provided to an agency by an individual or business because disclosure of such information to competitors of those businesses would be detrimental to the business. In addition, the exemption is necessary to protect trade secret information created by an agency in furtherance of the agency's duties and responsibilities, and disclosure of such information would be detrimental to the effective and efficient operation of the agency.
 
The bill provides for repeal of the exemption on October 2, 2025, unless reviewed and saved from repeal through reenactment by the Legislature.
 
The Senate companion SB1532(SB1534) by Senator Baxley has yet to be heard in its first of three committee stops the Senate Commerce and Tourism committee. SB1534 is a linked public records exemption bill.
 
   
5.   LOSS RUN STATEMENTS - ALL LINES SB292/HB269
 
SB292 by Senator Broxson creates loss run reporting requirements for all admitted and nonadmitted insurance carriers in all lines. The bill requires a carrier to provide a loss run statement to the insured within 15 days of receipt of a written request submitted by the insured. For personal lines of insurance, carriers may instead provide information on how to obtain a loss run statement through a consumer reporting agency. The loss run statements must be provided electronically or made available through an electronic portal, and the insurance carrier must notify the agent of record at the time the statement was provided. The bill requires the statement to include the preceding 5 years or, if the history is less than 5 years, a complete history with the carrier. The bill also prohibits a fee for preparing or annually providing the statement. SB292 passed its final stop, Senate Rules, this week and will be up next on the Senate Floor. A floor amendment is pending on SB292 to reduce the 5-year look-back period to 3 years and exempt life insurance.
 
HB269 by Representative Perez is similar to the Senate bill. HB269 passed its second and final committee this week and is will be up next on the House floor. We anticipate the House will accept the Senate version of the bill.
 
These bills are likely to pass.
  

6.   COMMISSIONER OF INSURANCE SB1460
 
SB1460 (Taddeo-D) Proposing amendments to the State Constitution to establish the position of Commissioner of Insurance as a statewide elected officer and to provide for the commissioner's inclusion on the Cabinet. The bill has not been heard and there is no House companion measure.
 
The bill is not likely to pass.
 
 
7.   CONSUMER DATA PRIVACY HB963/SB1670
 
 
These bills by Representative Santiago and Senator Broxson are based on Nevada privacy model. Both bills have been referred to three committees and neither bill has been heard.
 
 
These bills are unlikely to pass.
 
8.   AGENT LICENSING - INCREASED PENALTIES FOR MISDEMEANORS SB1404/HB1077
   
 
SB1404 was on the agenda for its third and final committee stop this week in Senate Rules this week. The bill had a late filed amendment adding two provisions. The first would reduce the statute of limitations on filing claims caused by a hurricane from 3 years down to 2 years. The second adding a sublimit for water damage option, if it's offered at 5% of coverage A, the consumer must get a 10% reduction in premium. If It's a sublimit but higher than that, an actuarially supported credit must be offered. Insurers condition renewals upon acceptance of the 5% sublimit unless the home is 40 years or older. The bill was temporarily postponed on February 27th after not being heard in committee and has been placed on the agenda for Senate Appropriations for March 3rd. In addition to the amendment the bill increases the disqualifying period for all licenses and applicants governed by DFS, OIR and OFR to five years. The bill also increases other penalties for felonies.
 
      HB1077 passed by its second and final committee, the House Commerce Committee on February 13th, with a strike-all amendment and the bill will be up next on the House floor. The Strike-all included some changes to continuing education requirements. The changes included:
  • Reducing the requirement for each licensee except a title insurance agent to complete a 5-hour course every year down to a 4-hour course;
  • Increasing that requirement for each licensee to complete 20 hours of elective continuing education from the previous amount of 19 hours; and
  • Moving all individuals subject to chapter 648 from completing a 5-hour update course and 9 hours of elective continuing education every two years to a 4-hour update course and 10 hours of elective continuing education.
 
These provisions are proposed to be adopted in the Senate version.
 
9. LEGISLATIVE REVIEW OF OCCUPATIONAL REGULATIONS HB707/SB1124
 
 
HB707 provides for Legislative Review of Professional and Occupational licensing.  Over 100 professions would be subject to scheduled, systematic review, including insurance agents and medical professionals.  The agent section would be reviewed during the first half of 2024.   This bill passed the House floor on February 26.   The Department of Financial Service strongly opposes any repeal of agent licensing, as do many of the other listed professions.
 
SB1124 has only passed one of its three committees of reference, and did not make the agenda of the last Appropriations committee meeting being held on March 3.
 
These bills are unlikely to pass.
 
  21st.
WORKERS COMPENSATION
 
1. NURSE REGISTRIES HB437/SB880 
 
HB437 by Representative Stone passed off the House floor on February 20th. The bill authorizes use of licensed nurse registries for placement of attendant care provided for workers compensation purposes.
 
The companion measure, SB880 by Senator Baxley passed its third of three committees, Senate Rules, and heads to the floor next.
 
These bills are in a position to pass.

WARRANTY
 
1.  LICENSED AGENTS SERVING AS SALES REPRESENTATIVES  HB895/SB1606
 
HB895 by Santiago is an Omnibus insurance bill that passed the second of its three committees on February 18th and will be up next in House Commerce. A provision of the bill dealing with agent licensing states that a personal lines or general lines agent is not required to be licensed as a sale representative to advertise, solicit, negotiate or sell service warranties. This bill amended in the House Commerce this week to remove these provisions this week. We are working to get this language inserted into another bill that is germane, and will keep members posted.
 
SB1606, the companion measure by Perry, passed its first committee on February 4th, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, but an amendment struck the warranty language from the bill. We hope to add that language to another insurance measure. This bill passed its second of three committees on February 17th and will be up next in Senate Appropriations on March 3rd.

 
TORT REFORM
 
1.   ASTBESTOS TRUST CLAIMS SB1582/HB741
 
HB741 by Representative Leek passed its second and final committee stop on January 28th in the House Judiciary committee and will be up next on the House floor. The bill would require plaintiffs to reveal their asbestos trust claims and provide defendants copies of documents related to their trust claims. The bill would also require plaintiffs to certify that they have investigated which trust claims are available to them and filed such claims where they have a basis to do so. The bill provides that should the court determine that there is a sufficient basis for the plaintiff to file an asbestos trust claim, the court shall stay the claim until after the plaintiff has filed.
 
Additionally, the bill bars a plaintiff from attempting to interfere with such discovery by asserting claims of privilege or confidentiality. The bill assists defendants in introducing evidence of trust claims at trial in support of their efforts to prove apportionment of liability by expressly providing that asbestos trust claims materials and trust governance documents are admissible in evidence, are presumed to be relevant, and are not subject to claims of privilege.
 
SB1582 by Senator Simmons passed its first committee the Senate Commerce and Tourism on February 18th and will be up next in Senate Rules on March 2nd. The Senate bill is similar to the House version, but does not include the provision relating to staying the case in the event that the court determines a trust claim should be filed.
 
There remain some key differences to be worked out in these bills.

2.   ACCURACY IN DAMAGES SB1668/HB9
 

HB9 by Representative Leek passed all of its three committees, and will be up next on the floor. The bill provides for calculation of damages for certain health care services, procedures, or equipment under specified circumstances. The bill would also specify that certain evidence is inadmissible at trial.
 
SB1668 filed by Senator Simmons was amended and passed its second of three committees, the Health Policy on February 11th and goes next in Senate Banking and Insurance which has likely held its last meeting. The bill requires evidence of medical expenses in personal injury claims to be based on the usual and customary charges in the community where the expenses are incurred. The bill requires that these usual and customary charges may not include increased or additional charges based on the outcome of litigation. The bill also establishes that the charges from an independent, nonprofit, statistically reliable benchmarking database that has been in existence for the last 5 years are admissible as evidence of the usual and customary medical charges in the consideration of past and present medical expenses. Additionally, evidence of the reasonableness of future medical expenses may be considered along with other relevant evidence. SB1668 appears to be stalled in the Banking & Insurance Committee due to trial bar opposition.
   
  & Insurance and then Rules.
3. BAD FAITH SB924
 
SB924 by Senator Brandes was temporarily postponed in its first of three committees for the second straight week on February 11th. The bill amends the civil remedies statute of the Insurance Code specific to third-party bad faith causes of action. The bill provides the insured or claimant has the burden of proving the insurer acted in bad faith through reckless disregard for the insured's rights and that this reckless disregard caused damage to the insured or claimant. The bill also codifies legal precedent that the conduct of the insurer or claimant is relevant to the trier of fact and creates an affirmative defense where the conduct of the insured or claimant causes an excess judgment. The bill requires the insurer to advise the insured of settlement opportunities, probable outcome of litigation, and possibility of an excess judgment with steps to avoid such judgment. The bill precludes a third-party bad faith determination against the insurer if the insurer was ready and willing to settle for policy limits within 45 days of receiving the notice of loss. Finally, the bill precludes liability beyond policy limits in an interpleader case of two or more third-party claimants to a single claim if the insurer brings the interpleader action within 90 days of receiving notice of the competing claims.
 
HB895 - several bad faith provisions were added in the Commerce Committee. The bill goes next to the floor
 
Passage of meaningful bad faith reform is a long shot at this point.
 
4.   LAWSUIT REFORM - LITIGATION FINANCING SB1828/HB7041
 
HB7041/SB1828 This bill to prohibit financing of lawsuits passed its second and final committee in the House and has not been heard in its first of three Senate committees. The bill creates the Litigation Financing Consumer Protection Act regulating litigation financing to protect Florida consumers. This bill was Temporarily Postponed by the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee this week in its first committee stop.
 
These bills are not likely to pass.