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 Letter to House Speaker Johnnie Byrd Regarding Special Session  

June 27, 2003
Source: The Executive Office of the Governor

The Honorable Johnnie B. Byrd, Jr.
Speaker of the House
Florida House of Representatives
420 The Capitol
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300

Dear Speaker Byrd:

I write to thank you for your continued persistence in seeking to resolve the current crisis threatening access to health care for so many Floridians.

From your creation of a Select Committee nine months ago to the last few days of fruitful negotiations with the Senate and my office, you and your leadership team have taken seriously the complex issues that make reform so urgent. You have embraced the spirit of compromise and accommodation, best illustrated by the fact that 17 of the 57 provisions in your current bill reflect the work of the Senate.

At the same time, you have remained firm in your resolve to pass a bill that would create real reform. Your chamber deserves particular credit for recognizing that while a meaningful cap on non-economic damages does not represent reform in and of itself, no meaningful reform can be complete without it. I also commend you for your work on physician discipline and for extending the same liability protection in place at many of Florida's teaching and public hospitals to the true heroes of our health care system, the physicians and providers who care for us in an emergency.

While some provisions of the House bill could be improved, I have nevertheless been pleased that the tone of our discussion has been purposeful and very much focused on creating meaningful reform for our people. It is in this spirit that I urge you to strengthen the House bill provisions relating to bad faith language. Florida's largest remaining insurer, FPIC, has committed to an immediate rollback in premium rates of 20 percent if the recommendation of the Academic Task Force on bad faith is adopted. This is the only proposal actuaries have confirmed will reduce rates, as confirmed by the Office of Insurance Regulation. I also urge you to stay committed to the principles of the free market, and not allow Florida's taxpayers to potentially be placed at risk by creating a government capitalized insurance entity. This concept runs contrary to what I know to be your principles.

As you know, I have pledged repeatedly to call the Legislature into Special Session until both chambers can agree to meaningful reform. In an effort to help you and your members make your summer plans, here are the dates I propose through September, if necessary, to ask you back to Tallahassee to complete this important work:

 * Special Session C: July 9 - July 16, 2003

 * Special Session D: July 22 - July 28, 2003

 * Special Session E: August 5 - August 13, 2003

 * Special Session F: August 20 - August 28, 2003

 * Special Session G: September 3 - September 10, 2003

 * Special Session H: September 18 - September 26, 2003

Speaker Byrd, I genuinely appreciate the efforts you and your leadership team have made in the search for a common ground. I know we have more work to do, but I am committed to making access to care the guiding principle of our reform efforts.

I am glad you share my resolve.

 Sincerely,
Jeb Bush