US Senate committee investigating Citizens Insurance over inability to cover losses

Link: https://nbc-2.com/news/state/2023/12/01/us-senate-committee-investigating-citizens-insurance-over-inability-to-cover-losses/

Excerpt:

The federal government has launched an investigation into Florida’s largest home insurance company.

Citizens Insurance, the governor, and other state leaders received a letter informing them that a Senate budget committee is looking into the state-run company.

Here’s why a Senate budget committee is looking into the company.

Citizens insure $586 billion worth of property, and they have just over $15 billion in their reserves to pay out on claims. If a major hurricane hit the state, they could be short over $571 billion, leaving everyone in the state on the hook to pay the shortfall.

The letter from the Senate committee investigating the state backed company expresses concern it may be unable to cover its losses. A claim the governor confirmed while visiting Fort Myers last year.

….

Mark Friedlander with the Insurance Information Institute said a private insurer would not be allowed to operate in the State of Florida with those financial dynamics.

Seven private companies went insolvent in the last year and a half in Florida.

“Citizens, unlike a private insurer, could never go insolvent,” Friedlander noted.

That’s because the state could initiate a hurricane tax to cover its costs which would require everyone who owns property or a car to pay a hurricane tax.

Author(s): Dave Elias

Publication Date: 4 Dec 2023

Publication Site: NBC 2, Florida Weekly

Letter to Citizens Property Insurance Corporation from Senate Committee on the Budget

Link: https://www.budget.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/letter_to_citizens.pdf

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As of 2022, Citizens’ market share for homeowners multi-peril policies was approaching 20 percent, having more than doubled since 2020. As private insurers in Florida continue to go insolvent or exit the state, Citizens’ market share will likely continue to grow. At 20 percent market share, Citizens’ losses could be as high as $36 billion in the scenario studied by Swiss Re or $162 billion in the scenario studied by Cambridge and Munich Re (assuming that 60 percent of total losses are insured). If Citizens had to raise $162 billion to cover losses, that would result in an approximately $20,000 assessment for every homeowners insurance policyholder in Florida.

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To that end, please respond to the following requests for information and documents by December 21, 2023:

1. What modeling or other analysis has Citizens done to estimate its total potential exposure to various worst case hurricane scenarios? What is the upper range of Citizens’ potential losses? Please provide all documents and communication relating to modeling, analysis, and estimates of Citizens’ potential losses.

2. What modeling or other analysis has Citizens done to estimate its market share over the next decade? What does Citizens project its market share to be in each of the next 10 years? Please provide all documents and communication relating to modeling, analysis, and estimates of Citizens’ future market share.

3. What modeling or other analysis has Citizens done to determine its ability to fully pay out claims resulting from various loss scenarios? Please provide all documents and communication relating to modeling, analysis, and estimates of Citizens’ financial position and (in)solvency under such scenarios.

4. What are Citizens’ current assets? What is Citizens’ total reinsurance coverage? What are the maximum total claims Citizens would be able to pay out without having to levy an assessment on Florida policyholders? Please provide all documents and communication relating to modeling, analysis, and estimates of Citizens’ current assets, reinsurance, and ability to pay claims.

5. What communications has Citizens had with Governor DeSantis, Insurance Commissioner Michael Yaworsky, their staffs, or any other state officials regarding Citizens’ current or future solvency? Please provide copies of these communications.

6. What communications has Citizens had with Governor DeSantis, Insurance Commissioner Yaworsky, their staffs, or any other state officials regarding what Citizens and/or the State would do if Citizens were unable to cover its losses? Please provide copies of these communications.

7. Has Citizens contemplated asking for a federal bailout if it were unable to cover its losses? Has Citizens discussed the possibility of a federal bailout with Governor DeSantis, Insurance Commissioner Yaworsky, their staffs, or any other state officials? Please provide copies of these communications.

Author(s): Sheldon Whitehouse

Publication Date: 30 Nov 2023

Publication Site: Senate website

BlackRock’s Red-State Woes Continue as Florida Divests

Link: https://www.ai-cio.com/news/blackrocks-red-state-woes-continue-as-florida-divests/

Excerpt:

State Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis announced Thursday that the Florida Treasury will begin divesting $2 billion worth of assets currently under management by BlackRock.

BlackRock managed $1.43 billion of Florida’s long duration portfolio, which includes investments such as corporate bonds, asset-backed securities and municipal bonds. Additionally, BlackRock managed $600 million of Florida funds in a short-term treasury fund, which invests in short-term and overnight investments.

Patronis cited efforts by BlackRock and its CEO, Larry Fink, to embrace environmental, social and governance investment principles as the reason Florida will pull the funds from the manager.. In the wake of the announcement, the state will freeze the $1.43 billion in long-term securities at its custodial bank.

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“It’s my responsibility to get the best returns possible for taxpayers,” Patronis said in the statement. “The more effective we are in investing dollars to generate a return, the more effective we’ll be in funding priorities like schools, hospitals and roads. As major banking institutions and economists predict a recession in the coming year, and as the Fed increases interest rates to combat the inflation crisis, I need partners within the financial services industry who are as committed to the bottom line as we are – and I don’t trust BlackRock’s ability to deliver. As Larry Fink stated to CEOs, ‘Access to capital is not a right. It is a privilege.’ As Florida’s CFO, I agree wholeheartedly, so we’ll be taking Larry up on his offer.”

Author(s): Dusty Hagedorn

Publication Date: 2 December 2022

Publication Site: ai-CIO

State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo Issues New mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine Guidance

Link: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/FLDOH/bulletins/3312697

Guidance: https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/20221007-guidance-mrna-covid19-vaccines-doc.pdf?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

Analysis: https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/20221007-guidance-mrna-covid19-vaccines-analysis.pdf?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

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Today, State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo has announced new guidance regarding mRNA vaccines. The Florida Department of Health (Department) conducted an analysis through a self-controlled case series, which is a technique originally developed to evaluate vaccine safety.

This analysis found that there is an 84% increase in the relative incidence of cardiac-related death among males 18-39 years old within 28 days following mRNA vaccination. With a high level of global immunity to COVID-19, the benefit of vaccination is likely outweighed by this abnormally high risk of cardiac-related death among men in this age group. Non-mRNA vaccines were not found to have these increased risks.

As such, the State Surgeon General recommends against males aged 18 to 39 from receiving mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. Those with preexisting cardiac conditions, such as myocarditis and pericarditis, should take particular caution when making this decision.

Author(s): Joseph A. Ladapo

Publication Date: 7 Oct 2022

Publication Site: Florida Dept of Health

12 States High Earners Are Flocking To

Link: https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2022/08/11/12-states-most-high-earners-are-moving-to/

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U.S. households that earn upward of $200,000 a year can have a significant impact when they move between states, despite their relatively small numbers, according to a recent analysis by SmartAsset. In 2020, these tax filers comprised 6.8% of total tax returns filed across the 50 States and the District of Columbia.

High-earning households’ influence is so great because a state that loses more of them than it gains in a given year may experience a decline in tax revenues and its fiscal situation may worsen.

As part of its analysis, SmartAsset identified the states with the most movement of high-earning households. Researchers examined the inflow and outflow of tax filers making at least $200,000 in each state and the District of Columbia between 2019 and 2020.

Author(s): Michael S. Fischer

Publication Date: 11 Aug 2022

Publication Site: Think Advisor

Governor Moves to Bar Florida SBA From ESG Investing

Link: https://www.ai-cio.com/news/governor-moves-to-bar-florida-sba-from-esg-investing/

Excerpt:

The latest anti-ESG onslaught from Republican state officials is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ campaign to forbid the Florida State Board of Administration from adopting environmental, social and governance investing tenets. At the moment, SBA doesn’t appear to be a devotee of ESG.

The governor, an outspoken conservative, plans to propose at an SBA meeting on August 15 that the body’s fiduciary duties must exclude ESG. “From Wall Street banks to massive asset managers and big tech companies, we have seen the corporate elite use their economic power to impose policies on the country that they could not achieve at the ballot box,” DeSantis said in a statement.

DeSantis, a possible GOP presidential contender in 2024, declared that “we are protecting Floridians from woke capital and asserting the authority of our constitutional system over ideological corporate power.” He also plans to push through legislation banning the SBA from making ESG-themed investments and requiring them to focus on maximizing returns.

Author(s): Larry Light

Publication Date: 5 Aug 2022

Publication Site: ai-CIO

Jacksonville’s public pension reform helps the city get an improved credit rating

Link: https://reason.org/commentary/jacksonvilles-public-pension-reform-helps-the-city-get-an-improved-credit-rating/

Excerpt:

The city of Jacksonville is about to enjoy the benefits of a credit rating boost. Moody’s Investors Service moved the Florida city’s credit rating to Aa2 from Aa3, citing pension reform among the main reasons for the upgrade. The credit rating increase will allow the state to borrow funds at a lower interest rate and invest in more infrastructure and public services. 

Five years ago, the Jacksonville City Council approved a pension reform package while enacting innovative changes, reducing debt by more than $585 million and adding over $155 million to pension reserves. A key element of the pension reform that led to reduced debt was closing the city’s three pension plans to new public employees in 2017. Since that change was put in place, over $715 million has been used to grow Jacksonville’s economy and invest in public services for its population. In addition, credit rating agencies, such as Moody’s, assign “grades” to governments’ ability and willingness to service their bond obligations, taking into consideration the jurisdiction’s economic situation and fiscal management. Since the pension reform reduced budgetary pressure, it improved the chances of the city getting a credit upgrade. 

Author(s): Jen Sidorova

Publication Date: 1 Jun 2022

Publication Site: Reason

Wall Street’s Shift South Runs Into Texas, Florida Culture Wars

Link: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-10-05/wall-street-s-shift-south-runs-into-texas-florida-culture-wars

Excerpt:

Wall Street’s three biggest municipal-bond underwriters have seen business grind to a halt in Texas after the state blocked governments from working with banks that have curtailed gun-industry ties. In June, as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. was on the hunt for a new campus in Dallas, Republican Governor Greg Abbott took a shot at ESG initiatives by banning state investments in businesses that cut ties with oil and gas companies.

That’s not to mention the brawls over Covid vaccines and mask mandates, deadly Texas blackouts along the country’s most isolated power grid and new state laws that restrict voting and all but ban abortion. It’s all happening just as Wall Street’s shareholders push the industry to fight climate change, racism and the gender gap.

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So far, most big banks haven’t taken public positions on the new abortion restrictions. They’re being cautious about requiring Covid-19 vaccinations for employees in places where officials have assailed mandates. But the new Texas gun law is running into both the industry’s efforts to advance social causes and its ability to work with the second-largest state for muni-bond issuance. 

JPMorgan Chase & Co. — which has 25,500 Texas employees, its most in any state outside New York — has said it can’t bid on most business with public entities in Texas because of ambiguities around the law. The biggest U.S. bank is assessing its potential next steps, said a person with knowledge of the company’s thinking. 

Author(s): Max Abelson, Amanda Albright

Publication Date: 5 October 2021

Publication Site: Bloomberg

Florida death certificate review raises questions about official number of COVID-19 deaths

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We had the opportunity to review death certificates for some of Florida’s recent COVID-19 deaths, and we can tell you definitively that Florida is counting deaths that were not directly caused by COVID-19.

Public health agencies have a goal of tracking the spread of a reportable disease, and for that reason, guidance was issued in March that any person who tested positive for COVID-19 should be counted as a COVID-19 death. However, the death count is now prominently featured in newscasts and used as a talking point to claim that some governments aren’t “doing enough” to stop the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 metrics, including the number of reported deaths, are increasingly cited by governments as a reason to write public health recommendations into law.

……

A change in CDC guidance published on March 24, 2020 (COVID-19 Alert No.2) encouraged doctors to include COVID-19 in PART 1 “for all decedents where the disease caused or is assumed to have caused or contributed to death.” This was reinforced on April 5 (COVID-19 2020 Interim Case Definition), when the CDC said any death with COVID-19 on the death certificate is counted as a COVID-19 death, even if it was just presumed and had no confirming laboratory or clinical validation. In other words, the CDC guidance explicitly does not distinguish between deaths from COVID-19 and deaths with COVID-19. 

This is contrary to World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, which say to count only deaths “resulting from a clinically compatible illness, in a probable or confirmed COVID-19 case, unless there is a clear alternative cause of death that cannot be related to COVID disease (e.g. trauma). There should be no period of complete recovery from COVID-19 between illness and death. A death due to COVID-19 may not be attributed to another disease (e.g. cancer).” 

Author(s): JENNIFER CABRERA AND LEN CABRERA

Publication Date: 11 November 2020

Publication Site: Rational Ground

Florida Alters COVID-19 to Show Artificial Decline in Deaths

Link: https://www.governing.com/now/florida-alters-covid-19-to-show-artificial-decline-in-deaths

Excerpt:

The downloadable data sets on cases and deaths included the report date as well as the date a person died or got sick, allowing journalists and independent researchers to select the best metric for their purposes. The daily reports showed additional cases and deaths added from one day to the next.

In June, as case numbers dropped and vaccination rates continued to rise, the health department discontinued the dashboard and changed to a weekly report. The only near-daily data was submitted by the health department to the CDC and published on the CDC Trend Tracker website.

At first, the data on the CDC website was updated in a largely predictable manner, similar to the way that the DOH had reported daily changes throughout the pandemic. Then on Aug. 10, without warning or any explanation from the health department or the CDC, the data for nearly every day of the previous year changed. Neither agency immediately explained the changes.

Author(s): Sarah Blaskey, Ana Claudio Chacin and Devoun Cetoute, McClatchy Washington Bureau

Publication Date: 31 August 2021

Publication Site: Governing

Pandemic of unvaccinated continues to rage as states set new COVID records

Link: https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/08/pandemic-of-unvaccinated-continues-to-rage-as-states-set-new-covid-records/?mc_cid=7fce136b2d&mc_eid=983bcf5922

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At least five states have exceeded their previous peaks of seven-day averages for new daily cases—Florida, Louisiana, Hawaii, Oregon, and Mississippi. Seven states have exceeded their most recent peaks in hospitalizations—Arkansas, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oregon, and Washington.

Florida in particular has been ablaze with COVID-19. The Sunshine State exceeded its previous record average of around 16,000 new daily cases, which was set in January. The state is now averaging just under 22,000, according to data reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As for daily hospitalization tallies, Florida is currently at its all-time record of around 15,000, exceeding its previous highest peak of around 12,000 last July.

Federal health officials noted last week that shipments to Florida containing COVID-19 treatments, including monoclonal antibodies, increased eightfold over the past month. On Tuesday, the Florida Hospital Association reported that it soon expects 75 percent of hospitals in the state to reach critical staffing shortages.

Author(s): Beth Mole

Publication Date: 17 August 2021

Publication Site: Ars Technica

5 States Where COVID-19 Hospitalizations Are Surging

Link: https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2021/07/29/5-states-where-covid-19-hospitalizations-are-surging/

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Some U.S. states look as if they might be heading into a severe new wave of COVID-19.

Federal government charts illustrating trends in new case counts and hospitalization rates in those states are starting to head straight up.

Hospitalization rates may be a better indicator of outbreak severity than new case counts, because ups and downs in the number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 might reflect changes in how easy and cheap it is for people to get tested, rather than infection rates.

Hospitals, in contrast, are likely to admit people with COVID-19 only when those people are seriously ill.

Author(s): Allison Bell

Publication Date: 29 July 2021

Publication Site: Think Advisor