Board Puts Off Vote On Health Proposals

Nov 6, 2018

On the eve of mid-term elections where health care is a top issue with voters, a board led by Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier sidestepped voting Monday on a number of consumer-protection issues. 

Altmaier told members of the Florida Health Insurance Advisory Board that they would discuss proposals but would vote at a meeting scheduled for Dec. 13.

“That should give everybody a sufficient amount of time to review the recommendations,” Altmaier said.

The commissioner then twice moved to limit talks, saying he was concerned about time constraints.

After discussion on a recommendation that patients be provided one free copy of their medical records, Altmaier suggested that they “pause discussions.” He said he wanted to reserve time for any public remarks, but there were no public remarks and the meeting lasted less than an hour.

The board — which is supposed to advise regulators on health insurance issues — had initially agreed to vote on legislative recommendations at Monday’s meeting, according to a review of the board’s Oct. 4 minutes.

The Office of Insurance Regulation, which Altmaier leads, did not immediately comment about the delay in voting.

A major issue in Tuesday’s elections in Florida and across the country involves insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Democrats have been hammering Gov. Rick Scott, one of Altmaier’s bosses, and other Republicans for their opposition to the federal Affordable Care Act, which includes such protections.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has joined a multi-state federal lawsuit that if successful would eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

None of the recommendations the Health Insurance Advisory Board is considering would extend federal pre-existing condition protections into Florida law. Instead, the board was asked to consider such things as allowing patients access to free copies of their medical records and a proposal to ban what is known as “balance billing” for emergency medical transportation, whether by land, air, or water.

The recommendations under consideration were all submitted by Louisa McQueeney, the consumer representative on the board.