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Press Release

Senate Committee Approves Long-Term Care Insurance Legislation
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Contact:  Beth Scott
               (850) 413-2515
 
Tallahassee – The Florida Senate Banking and Insurance Committee approved legislation that, if signed into law, will help ensure the viability of long-term care insurance in Florida.
 
Senate Bill 2290 provides protections to seniors who have made the financial decisions and planned for their future needs and purchased these policies with the understanding that purchasing long-term care insurance at a younger age would make it affordable and who now find their "affordable" rates are skyrocketing.
 
Legislation would require policyholders' rates to be no more than any new policy would cost and would provide policyholders with a contingency benefit provision option if their policies are in a closed block of business with skyrocketing premiums. Closed blocks of business are policies that are no longer issued, but are still in force for a group of policyholders with medical conditions that drive up the cost of premiums for the group.
 
The bill also protects seniors who file valid claims by addressing a company's ability to contest a policy at the time a claim is filed if the policy was in force for two years, mirroring current law applicable to life insurance.
 
"This legislation contains important senior protection provisions that allows seniors and their families the security of knowing the benefits they purchased will be available to them when they need them most," said Shelly Schwartz, vice chairman for the Florida Silver-Haired Legislature.
 
The legislation also would make shopping for a policy easier for new purchasers by requiring carriers to include in their policy offerings a standard benefit policy, allowing comparisons between carriers and their policies offered.
 
Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, is sponsor of Senate Bill 2290 that passed Tuesday is headed for the Senate Healthcare Committee. Rep. Frank Farkas, R-St. Petersburg, is sponsoring similar legislation in House Bill 1349. 
 
In recent years, some existing long-term care insurance policies have had annual premium increases topping 200%, a substantial financial burden for seniors and their families. Unexpectedly high premiums have forced many seniors to drop the coverage they had paid for years at the time they might need to use it and lose their entire investment.
 
 
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