ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

Sponsored By: Two Men and a Truck
cloudy-day
86°
Sunny
H 94° L 77°
  • cloudy-day
    86°
    Current Conditions
    Sunny. H 94° L 77°
  • clear-day
    78°
    Morning
    Sunny. H 94° L 77°
  • cloudy-day
    90°
    Afternoon
    Partly Cloudy. H 92° L 78°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

Some states balk at enforcing health law’s insurance protections

Florida regulators won’t penalize insurance companies that violate new health law consumer protections that take effect in January but will report them to the federal government, according to an agreement between the state and federal officials.

Citing lack of money and legal authority, Pennsylvania’s top insurance regulator hasn’t decided whether his agency can enforce the provisions, which include some of the most popular elements of the 2010 federal health law, such as requiring insurers to provide coverage to all applicants regardless of their health status, prohibiting insurers from charging more based on gender or health, and greatly limiting what insurers can charge for premiums based on age.

At least three others— Missouri, Oklahoma and Wyoming — have informed the Obama administration that they can’t or won’t enforce the law. Some officials say they have not received the authority they need to do so from their state legislatures.

While federal officials say they will step in if necessary, policy experts note they have little experience enforcing health insurance laws and few resources in states to do it.

“HHS has no real record of enforcing health insurance rules in the states,” said Jay Angoff, who was in charge of developing the new online insurance marketplaces for HHS and is now a partner at the Washington, D.C., law firm Mehri & Skalet.

To be sure, many states have agreed to oversee the changes – including the 16 states, plus the District of Columbia, that won conditional approval to set up their own insurance exchanges. Even some states that defaulted to a federally run exchange, such as Texas, Mississippi, South Dakota and Alaska, have agreed to enforce the new provisions.

“We don’t pick and choose which laws to enforce or not enforce,” said Aaron Sisk of the Mississippi Insurance Department.

The Texas Insurance Department issued a directive today saying it would require health insurers and HMOs to “comply with the terms of the policies they have issued, regardless of whether a particular term is based on a federal or state law.”

The enforcement issue needs to be settled now because health plans are beginning this month to submit insurance products to state regulators that they hope to sell in the new online marketplaces beginning this fall. If states balk at reviewing the plans for compliance with Obamacare rules, insurers could face oversight from both state and federal regulators. It’s unclear what impact that would have on consumers seeking help.

“We will see a lot of variability,” in how the law is enforced, said Alan Weil, executive director of the National Academy of State Health Policy. But Weil noted that’s no different than today with some states approving insurance rates before policies are sold and many that do not.

Commonwealth Fund report last month found just 11 states and the District of Columbia had begun to change state laws to give their insurance regulators authority to enforce the law.

Wyoming’s Deputy Insurance Commissioner Stephanie Bryant McGee said her agency does not currently have that authority. But she said her staff has been successful on getting voluntary compliance by companies, and “I assume we will continue to similarly communicate with insurers in the future.”

She said she has been notified the federal government will also step in if need be.

Montana and Delaware have also agreed to evaluate plans and respond to consumer complaints, but leave any enforcement penalties to the federal government.

Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine said his reviewers could add the federal provisions to their annual audits of insurance plans, but he said it’s unclear if they have the legal authority to penalize violators. He said lack of funding may also impede enforcement efforts. “We may need help with having the dollars to do this,” he said.

Gary Cohen, director of the federal Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, said the administration has been in talks with states for months to persuade them to enforce the new rules. Cohen said states are in a better position to do it because they already enforce state health insurance laws.

Read More
VIEW COMMENTS

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

The Latest News Headlines

  • The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is investigating after what appears to be a drive-by shooting near a local park.   Police tell us a 16-year-old was shot in the abdomen around 3:30 pm Friday afternoon, in the area of Westbrook Park.   Three juveniles witnessed the shooting. They describe the shots as coming from a white Chevrolet Impala, but there is no information about the actual suspect at this time.   The 16-year-old victim's injuries are said to be non-life threatening and he's expected to be OK.
  • The new owner of the lavish mansion where Latitude 360 CEO Brent Brown used to live has been cited for illegally renting out the property as an event venue.Action News Jax found evidence that Brown still has connections to the property.Brown lived in the sprawling waterfront estate at 4424 Kelnepa Drive while his employees' paychecks bounced, and while government records show he failed to pay taxes.Now customers can spend thousands of dollars to rent it out for a party.The problem? It's not legal.Neighbors say the events have turned their quiet San Marco street into a nightmare.'People going to parties, parties, parties, parties,' neighbor Marie Wood said.'We can't get in our driveway,' neighbor Bonnie Biats said.'The party trucks, the rental trucks and the 50-100 cars that show up at functions about every weekend,' neighbor Bobby Thomas said. Investigation finds mansion formerly owned by #Latitude360 CEO is being rented for illegal parties. #ANJaxInvestigates his involvement at 6. pic.twitter.com/yUH0iXGahe-- Jenna Bourne (@jennaANjax) July 21, 2017 Eight neighbors tell Action News Jax they have had enough.When they bought their homes on Kelnepa Drive, they thought they were moving onto a quiet street.That was before the mansion at the end of the cul-de-sac started being advertised as a resort called the Tuscan River Estate, booking weddings, parties and other events online all the way into May 2018.Last week, the city of Jacksonville posted a citation on the gate because this property is not zoned or permitted as an event venue.'I don't think it impressed the resort people at all because they started preparing for a new event that afternoon,' said neighbor Allan Biats, who said it was his complaint to city councilwoman Lori Boyer that sparked Code Enforcement's investigation. Neighbors say lavish events at mansion formerly owned by #Latitude360 CEO has turned their street into a nightmare. #ANJaxInvestigates at 6 pic.twitter.com/zOjEulvh8F-- Jenna Bourne (@jennaANjax) July 21, 2017 Neighbor of Brent Brown: 'He continues to play shell games'Action News Jax has been investigating the financial failures of now-bankrupt entertainment eatery Latitude 360 and its CEO Brown for nearly two years.Property appraiser records show Brown sold his mansion to CLS Asset Management.CLS Asset Management then sold the mansion to Tuscan River Estate LLC.Here's the thing: Florida Department of State filings show that Tuscan River Estate LLC is listed as the registered agent for CLS Asset Management.Tuscan River Estate LLC is registered in Delaware, where you don't have to name a registered agent. But Michael Johnigean is listed on the venue's website as the manager.Johnigean is also the director of Rex Gryphon LLC, a company whose certificate of formation is signed by Brent Brown's wife Antonia (Toni) Brown.One more thing about CLS Asset Management: Florida Department of State filings show its general partner is Brownstone Developers, LLC - a company that is managed by Brent and Antonia Brown.'He continues to play shell games with the ownership of the house, trying to stay one step ahead of his creditors, I'm sure,' neighbor Bill Wood said. At 6:Neighbor says Brent Brown 'continues to play shell games with the ownership of the house, trying to stay 1 step ahead of his creditors' pic.twitter.com/gH6r6IliB0-- Jenna Bourne (@jennaANjax) July 21, 2017 Brown's mother continues to look after Tuscan River EstateAction News Jax found several current ties still remain between the Browns and the mansion.Brent Brown's mother Sheri Brown still has a clicker for the gate. She showed up while Action News Jax was outside in an unmarked car.'I just kind of look over the property, make sure everything's OK,' Sheri Brown said.A review from last month on the website HomeAway thanks Toni Brown for being 'extremely helpful' during an event.Action News Jax left multiple voicemails for Brent Brown asking to get his side of the story. He has not responded. At 6: New owner of mansion where #Latitude360 CEO lived denies it's being rented illegally for events. Neighbors say these pics are proof. pic.twitter.com/lt8LGgPasY-- Jenna Bourne (@jennaANjax) July 21, 2017 Johnigean texted Action News Jax that what he was doing is 'perfectly legal.'He agreed to meet for an interview.Then two days later, Johnigean said he didn't have time to talk after all.But Johnigean did have time to call Scott Odell and give him Action News Jax reporter Jenna Bourne's number.'Everything's smooth,' said Odell, who lives next door to the mansion. 'There's no trash. We hear zero noise.'When Bourne asked Odell why his account differed from eight of his neighbors' experiences, he responded, 'Well, they may have other motivations.' Before & after: Website changed to remove event planner after city cited San Marco mansion owner for illegal parties. #ANJaxInvestigates @ 6 pic.twitter.com/F2HKubqlSR-- Jenna Bourne (@jennaANjax) July 21, 2017 Neighbor: Kelnepa Drive has turned into 'a carnival atmosphere'Allan Biats said his only motivation is to get his quiet street back.'I just find it hard to believe that someone can steal an entire street from a neighborhood and turn it into a carnival atmosphere,' said Allan Biats.The booking page of Tuscan River Estate's website said it costs a minimum of $650 a night to stay at the mansion, with a three-night minimum stay required.During checkout, customers can select an option to add an additional $2,000 to hold an event there for up to 100 people.That's not including the hundreds of dollars that customers can expect to be charged for a cleaning fee and lodging tax.Despite the event booking options on the website, Johnigean texted Action News Jax the following statement: 'The Tuscan River Estate has been on HomeAway for two years. The Estate is a rental destination. I do not provide any other services but a rental service of the Estate. This is perfectly legal along with millions of other homes set up as rentals throughout the United States. Tuscan River Estate, LLC has property rights according to both State and County Laws. The home has been under new ownership since April 1, 2016 and management. If our guest choose to hold their event at the Estate. I will insure that their event has minimal impact on the neighborhood. I apologize to the neighbors if their [sic] has been any issues in the past. I will make sure that if any of our tenants hold an event at the Estate that the neighbors will not have any issues and they will have my contact info so they can contact me direct.' City councilwoman Lori Boyer said code enforcement will re-inspect the property 30 days after the July 14 citation was issued.Boyer said the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department and the Building Inspections Division were also notified because they may be able to enforce fire safety issues due to capacity.After the citation was issued, the Tuscan River Estate website took down the contact information for its event planner, Anne Urban.The website also changed its 'services' section to include a disclaimer that says, 'This is not a commercial property and we do not provide commercial services.' Brent Brown has business ties to new owner of mansion. His mother still has clicker to front gate. A review thanks his wife for help @ event pic.twitter.com/QEtjW5XRGr-- Jenna Bourne (@jennaANjax) July 21, 2017 RELATED COVERAGELatitude 360 closes its doors on the SouthsideReport: Latitude 360 didn't report wagesState Attorney's Office investigating Latitude 360Latitude 360 CEO Brent Brown in BuzzFeed report: 'I don't owe anybody s---'Main Entertainment Event opens in Jacksonville at former Latitude 360
  • White House press secretary Sean Spicer resigned from his post Friday morning, six months and one day after taking the position. >> Read more trending news In a message posted to Twitter Friday afternoon, Spicer said he will continue to serve as press secretary through August. >> Related: Sean Spicer resigns: A look at his 6 months as White House press secretary “It's been an honor (and) a privilege to serve (President Donald Trump and) this amazing country,” he wrote. Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will take over his duties, newly named White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci said at a news briefing Friday. Spicer’s resignation came in opposition to Scaramucci’s appointment, The New York Times reported.
  • The teenagers who police said did nothing to help a drowning man and instead recorded the incident and mocked him may now face charges, Cocoa police said.. At first, the suspects were not going to be charged in connection with 31-year-old Jamel Dunn’s death. >> Read more trending news Investigators were told by the State Attorney’s Office that while there was no moral justification for the July 9 incident at Bracco Pond Park, there wasn’t sufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution under Florida statutes. Related: Teens recorded video, laughed while man drowned Dunn’s body wasn’t found until July 14 when a passerby saw his body floating in the pond. Police announced Friday that they would be able to recommend charges against the teens under a Florida statute saying that a person who witnesses a death must report it to a medical examiner. Police said it’s a misdemeanor charge that hasn’t been applied in a case like this. “When we initially reviewed this case it was determined there were no laws broken as the teens were not directly involved with the death,” said Chief Mike Cantaloupe. “Further research of the statutes and consultation with the State Attorney’s Office yielded the decision to move forward with charges under this statute. It’s our belief that this law has never been enforced in a scenario like this, but we feel it could be applicable.” Link: Fundraiser for Jamel Dunn’s family The State Attorney’s Office will decide if a case is filed. In the video, police said a group of teenage boys can be heard yelling things like, “We’re not going to help you and you never should have gotten in there,” as Dunn screamed for help and struggled in the water. Police said video evidence showed that Dunn went into the water on his own. A neighbor’s security camera showed Dunn scaling a fence and intentionally going into the pond, police said. “Regardless of the circumstances surrounding his decision to enter the water that day, there is absolutely no justification for what the teens did,” Cantaloupe said. “Pursuing criminal charges is a way to hold them accountable for their own actions.” One of the teenagers mentioned marijuana in the nearly three-minute video.  The identities of the teens have not been released. 
  • A Scottish man will head back to Jacksonville to face a murder charge, ending a lengthy extradition battle, according to the BBC.  A release from the European Court of Human Rights states Phillip Harkins’ final appeal against legal extradition was rejected Monday morning.  Court documents show in 2000, Harkins was indicted in Jacksonville for first-degree murder and attempted robbery with a firearm. The crime itself occurred in 1999. He was then arrested in the UK in 2003, prompting the United States to seek extradition.  Harkins argued his human rights would be breached if sent back. Harkins complained he risked the death penalty or a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Monday, the court declared the complaint inadmissible. In the release from the European Court of Human Rights they explained, “The Court concluded that the facts of the case did not disclose any risk that Mr. Harkins would suffer a flagrant denial of justice. Nor indeed had Mr. Harkins himself suggested that the trial process in the USA would be unfair.” We have reached out to state and federal authorities to see what comes next for Harkins.

The Latest News Videos