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Legislation to change requirements for credentials for med mal second-opinion providers is under consideration. A 2005 law says claimants must get a supporting opinion from a second “similar” provider before they can file a lawsuit. The mandate has spurred a cottage industry around disputing the credentials of those providers. Lawmakers want to change the law to read “qualified” healthcare provider instead of “similar.” It would also give plaintiffs 60 days to fix any problems with those second opinions if ordered to by a judge. A similar bill died last year in the Senate. Trial lawyers like the bill.

Last-minute add to state budget, passed by legislature in March, had scheme to sell insurers and financial institutions state premium tax credits to help meet the Hurricane Catastrophe Fund’s statutory reserve levels. Buyers of tax credits would receive a discount on the dollar for paying state premium taxes early. Those early payments would be lent to the CAT Fund, which would pay the money back at some point. It would be the first time the fund would be allowed to borrow from state general revenue fund. Currently the CAT Fund relies on bonds. Fund execs are worried the state would become a primary creditor, outweighing bond investors. Gov. Rick Scott doesn’t have line-item veto authority, so to kill this part of the budget bill would require vetoing the entire budget. >> Former commissioner of the Office of Financial Regulation and previous vice chairman of state’s House Insurance, Business and Financial Affairs Committee Tom Grady hired as interim president and CEO of Florida’s largest property insurer, Citizens. He replaces Scott Wallace, who announced plans to step down after six years as head.

Federal safety regulators investigating buses made over the past 20 years by Illinois-based Motor Coach Industries. Drive shafts have fallen out, causing drivers to lose control and crash. A bus expert says the shafts can snag on pavement and flip buses. Other testing found the shafts can fall and damage brake lines. MCI says it is the leading maker of intercity buses in the U.S. and Canada.

Rep. Harold Ritchie, D-Bogalusa, stripped of vice chairman’s seat on House Insurance Committee a day after voting against a tax measure proposed by Gov. Bobby Jindal that would benefit donors to a nonprofit that gives grants and scholarships to private schools. House Speaker Chuck Kleckley refused to comment on the action. >> Commissioner is alerting producers of possible habitational insurance scam he is investigating. I nvalid coverage, binders and/or policies may have been placed through unlicensed man, Mike Ward of Illinois, and his business JRSO Inc. Producers who have done business with the entity should contact the Department of Insurance.

Has launched website, www.healthreform.maryland.gov, to help residents understand healthcare marketplace, including changes resulting from Affordable Care Act. The state has moved forward with its health plan exchange.

Workers Compensation Rating and Inspection Bureau asks for average rate increase of 19.3%, effective September 2012. Bureau says big increase is needed because state rejected smaller increases in three of the past four years. The number of claims has declined but not fast enough to offset increases in medical and wage replacement costs. >> House considering bill to require privately owned tunnels to be insured if traveled by public. The Inspector General would determine the type and amount of insurance needed by the tunnel owner, and owners would verify coverage by Sept. 30 of each year.

Office of Regulatory Reinvention gets OK from Gov. Rick Snyder to change 334 state occupational safety and health rules that exceed federal standards. More than 600 requirements could be rescinded. >> Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation has suspended license of American Medical and Life Insurance Co. and has ordered it and 29 organizations that sold its limited benefit health plans to cease and desist. The company allowed unlicensed and unappointed agents to sell its plans; it conducted insurance business in the state before receiving regulatory approvals; and it sold unapproved plans in 2011 and 2012, says OFIR.

City of Monticello and Lawrence County receive improved fire insurance ratings of six and eight, respectively. Should lower insurance rates.

Gov. Jay Nixon has vetoed two insurance bills. The first, a workplace discrimination bill, would have required employment practices plaintiffs to prove discrimination was “motivating factor,” not just “contributing factor” in employer’s actions. It also would have capped punitive damages at $300,000 and adjusted such damages according to number of employees at company. The second, a workers comp bill, would have put occupational diseases under workers compensation system instead of allowing lawsuits for such claims. It also would have prohibited suing co-workers for injuries unless the injury was “purposefully and dangerously” caused. This is the second year in a row Nixon has vetoed bills on these issues. >> State Supreme Court rules that brokers who accept contingent commissions are not breaching fiduciary duties, don’t have a duty to client to find insurance at lowest possible costs, and aren’t running afoul of the law by earning interest on payments sent to them before those payments are forwarded to the insurer.

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