St. Petersburg Times Online: News of Florida
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather
  • Senate advances new congressional districts
  • Measure could unseal complaints on judges
  • Police storm pediatrics ward to free hostage
  • Health insurance bill's makeover turns the tide
  • 'Doctor of the day' has serious start in capital
  • Lawmakers must deal with dueling budgets

  • From the state wire

  • Hurricane Jeanne appears on track to hit Florida's east coast
  • Rumor mill working overtime after Florida hurricanes
  • Developments associated with Hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne
  • Four killed in Panhandle plane crash were on Ivan charity mission
  • Hurricane Frances caused estimated $4.4 billion in insured damage
  • Disabled want more handicapped-accessible voting machines
  • USF forces administrators to resign over test score changes
  • Man's death at Universal Studios ruled accidental
  • State child welfare workers in Miami fail to do background checks
  • Hurricane Jeanne heads toward southeast U.S. coast
  • Hurricane Jeanne spurs more anxiety for storm-weary Floridians
  • Mistrial declared in case where teen was target of racial "joke"
  • Panhandle utility wants sewer plant moved to higher ground
  • State employee arrested on theft, bribery charges
  • Homestead house fire kills four children, one adult
  • Pierson leader tries to cut off relief to local fern cutters
  • Florida's high court rules Terri's law unconstitutional
  • Jacksonville students punished for putting stripper pole in dorm
  • FEMA handling nearly 600,000 applications for help
  • Man who killed wife, niece, self also killed mother in 1971
  • Producer sues city over lead ball fired by Miami police
  • Tourism suffers across Florida after pummeling by hurricanes
  • Key dates in the life of Terri Schiavo
  • An excerpt from the unanimous ruling in the Schiavo case
  • Four confirmed dead after small plane crash in Panhandle
  • Correction: Disney-Cruise Line story

    printer version

    Health insurance bill's makeover turns the tide

    The proposal by Rep. Frank Farkas sails through the House, but only after he makes major changes to it.

    By ANITA KUMAR, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published March 20, 2002

    TALLAHASSEE -- Rep. Frank Farkas scored a victory Tuesday when the House passed his controversial health insurance bill, but with so many changes that it doesn't read like the one he proposed.

    Farkas, R-St. Petersburg, who has been inundated with opposition to the plan, removed almost every item people found offensive. Opponents appeared satisfied.

    "When this process began, I shared some concerns," said Rep. Doug Wiles, D-St. Augustine. "I'm going to suggest that it's probably not the monster it started out to be. . . . A bad bill has been made a heck of a lot better."

    Under the bill (HB 913), insurance companies could offer low-cost plans to small companies with fewer than 50 employees. Farkas sees it as a way to help 1.3-million Floridians whose employers don't offer insurance.

    It originally allowed companies to not cover certain procedures now required under state law, such as mammograms and treatments for HIV-related diseases and cleft palate. It also would have limited annual coverage to $10,000. That would lower the cost of insurance, but consumers feared that companies that now offer insurance would switch to the cheaper alternative.

    Farkas agreed to restore all 26 procedures and to increase coverage to $25,000 annually and $500,000 for a lifetime.

    Farkas, who employs a dozen people at his St. Petersburg chiropractic office, said other aspects of the insurance plan would lower the cost, such as flexible deductibles, co-pays and other treatments and procedures not mandated by law but often covered by insurance companies.

    "You buy a plan tailored to your pocketbook," he said. "Right now, no plans allow you to have that flexibility."

    The amended bill passed 113-2, with Rep. Susan Bucher, D-Lantana, and House Minority Leader Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, voting no.

    "A bare-bones policy has been given meat," said Rep. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood. "It is a great step forward." A Senate bill (SB 1286) sponsored by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Palm Harbor, that covers more aspects of insurance is expected to be debated this week.

    Back to State news
    Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
    Special Links
    Lucy Morgan

    From the Times state desk