Today's Letters: Our legislators are failing us
By LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published May 18, 2007
I am truly amazed at the patience of my fellow Floridians. I believe it can be safely said that, when it comes to our homeowners insurance or real estate taxes, our frustration is reaching a breaking point. Many residents are literally being driven out of their homes.
Nearly everyone acknowledges that something must be done to rectify these unacceptable situations. However, when we, the homeowners, call out to our elected officials for reasonable relief, what do we get in return? The famous, Tallahassee Two-Step!
For example, our legislators just passed a bill that freezes continued increases asked for by Citizens Insurance Company. Good job! Of course, this freezes the premiums at obscenely high levels that many no longer can afford. What we wanted and needed was a rollback in these premiums, not a freeze.
For those of us who are "fortunate" enough to have policies from private companies, we have been given similar treatment. We were informed those outlandish 40 to 50 percent rate increases threatened by the private companies would not be tolerated by our elected officials. I still vividly recall the television coverage showing our leaders patting themselves on their backs at the end of their special insurance session. Good job, I thought at the time. Now I can look forward to lower premiums.
Alas, reality set in when the newspapers reviewed the results of this session. It seems that the increases of 40-50 percent by the private companies will be rolled back by 5 to 24 percent. Hmmm, my math skills may be slipping as I age, but, doesn't this mean that property owners lose again? Chalk up another victory for the insurance lobbyists. These people are really good. I only wish we had them on our side.
So, for those of us who thought our insurance costs would be coming down, don't count on it. My neighbors just received their renewal notice a couple of days ago. Guess what? They have to pay more. Who would have thought?
Now, just when you start to believe that you can't get more annoyed, hold on. Let's talk about our real estate taxes. Our elected officials are having difficulty coming up with a tax plan in which people living in houses of similar value pay the same property taxes. A plan in which neighbors who live in big houses pay more than those living in smaller houses. A plan in which small business property is taxed on its current use and not because Donald Trump is thinking about building a new tower down the street.
We need small business. Is it really too much to ask for a system in which all property owners are treated fairly and equally? And, speaking of fairness, the Save Our Homes Amendment, though well-meaning at the time of its inception, reeks of unfairness. It must be completely removed; otherwise, a fair and just tax plan can never be put in place.
I find myself in a quandary, wherein I have lost confidence in most of our elected officials. They say they are listening to us, but they don't act accordingly.
When bold initiatives and the courage of leadership to make things better are needed, most of our officials pander to lobbyists and special interests. This is truly sad. However, "sad" can quickly change to "mad." Quite frankly, I am mad. This is one Floridian who is very tired of the Tallahassee Two-Step.
Tom Woods, Brooksville
SHINE a light on seniors health care
Many Medicare recipients are confused and disillusioned with the Medicare system, as well as agents who represent providers, giving a lot of misinformation and false hope. The so-called golden years have become a nightmare for our seniors who are desperately trying to understand the medical bills they receive, as well as dealing with an acute lack of support when they attempt to get answers and help.
The SHINE program empowers seniors to reach informed decisions regarding their health care and medical insurance. Trained volunteer counselors provide help and offer group presentations that are free and unbiased.
We do not represent any health care provider, nor do we make decisions for those who need help. We provide information and direction that will give our clients a credible avenue to pursue so they can live their lives without fear and uncertainty. Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Elders is a government program that is committed to making our seniors understand without fear and respond with new hope as they deal with Medicare issues.
Give us a call, we are here to help you. 1-800-963-5337.
Anthony D'Angelo, SHINE volunteer/counselor, Spring Hill
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