Monday, December 18, 2017
Politics

Republicans' appeal to Florida's Hispanic voters off to bumpy start

Republicans called a meeting Tuesday to show off their Hispanic voter outreach, pledging an aggressive effort in Florida and other key states that will focus on the economy.

They showed off, instead, how much work the GOP and Mitt Romney have to do.

"To my understanding, he is still deciding what his position on immigration is," Republican National Committee Hispanic outreach director Bettina Inclan said in response to a question about presumptive nominee Romney. "I can't talk about what his proposal is going to be. … I can't talk about something that I don't know."

An alarmed RNC spokeswoman, reading tweets sent from the room, interrupted to say that the committee does not decide policy and a joint effort with Romney's campaign had just begun. "Let's all be fair and put this all in context," Kirsten Kukowski pleaded. Inclan later tweeted, "I misspoke, Romney's position on immigration is clear." Her tweet included a link to Romney's campaign website.

Democrats jumped in, casting Romney as a hardliner, including calling for illegal residents to "self deport" and saying he'd veto the Dream Act. But with the nomination in grasp, Romney's also showing signs of moderation, keenly aware of the role Hispanics will play in November. That Republicans can't articulate a message underscores the work to be done.

The Republican outreach effort (which includes a field director in Orlando) is also just beginning while the Obama campaign has been courting Hispanics for months.

Obama has been blanketing TV stations in South Florida, Orlando and Tampa with ads. The latest went up Tuesday in Orlando.

"We have six months," Inclan said when asked about the Democratic advantages.

Inclan said the No. 1 issue for Hispanics is the same as other voters: jobs and the economy. "To assume that the only thing we care about is immigration, is almost insulting," Inclan said.

Romney on fundraising swing

Romney is scheduled to be in Tampa on May 16 for an afternoon fundraising reception at Avila Golf and Country Club. The minimum donation is $2,500 per person, and a $10,000 check or a $25,000 bundle of checks gets you into the VIP photo reception. It's part of a two-day Florida swing, where we hear he'll also hit Miami, Jacksonville and Boca Raton.

Insurers owe almost $149M

Health insurance companies owe Florida policyholders tens of millions of dollars for failing to meet a provision of the Affordable Care Act that limits the amount of premium dollars that can be spent on overhead, according to new estimates.

The Kaiser Family Foundation recently issued a report that said insurers will owe Floridians nearly $149 million in rebates this summer for failing to meet the medical loss ratio rule. The nationwide rebate total is $1.3 billion, according to Kaiser, a nonpartisan organization that analyzes health policy.

Under the MLR provision, insurers offering health coverage to individuals and small businesses must spend at least 80 percent of premiums on claims and direct services. The threshold for large group plans is 85 percent of premium dollars. Insurers who failed to meet those requirements in 2011 must issue rebates to consumers in August.

Companies are required to submit a report to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services by June 1 showing what they spent on health care and activities that improve care during 2011. They must provide rebate notices and issue rebates by Aug. 1.

Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports, and Florida CHAIN, a statewide health advocacy group, issued a report Tuesday that provides new estimates for what individual companies may owe: Florida Blue, $44.9 million; UnitedHealthcare, $19.9 million; Golden Rule, $15.7 million; and Humana, $12.3 million.

Times staff writers Adam C. Smith and Tia Mitchell contributed to this report.

Comments
Trump says he isn’t considering firing Mueller

Trump says he isn’t considering firing Mueller

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Sunday that he is not considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller even as his administration was again forced to grapple with the growing Russia inquiry that has shadowed the White House for much of his ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Trump defends tax plan, proclaims economy set ‘to rock’

Trump defends tax plan, proclaims economy set ‘to rock’

WASHINGTON — Closing in on the first major legislative achievement of his term, President Donald Trump on Saturday defended the Republican tax cut as a good deal for the middle class while boldly suggesting it could lead to explosive economic growth....
Published: 12/16/17
Romano: Some bullies survive beyond the schoolyard

Romano: Some bullies survive beyond the schoolyard

Sometime soon, members of the Florida House will be asked to consider a solution for bullying in public schools. It’s a dubious idea based on the premise that students should flee their tormenters, and use voucher funds to attend a private school of ...
Published: 12/16/17
CDC gets list of forbidden words: ‘fetus,’ ‘transgender,’ ‘evidence-based’

CDC gets list of forbidden words: ‘fetus,’ ‘transgender,’ ‘evidence-based’

Trump administration officials are forbidding officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases - including "fetus" and "transgender" - in any official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.Polic...
Published: 12/16/17
Female congressional candidate leaves race after sexual harassment allegations resurface

Female congressional candidate leaves race after sexual harassment allegations resurface

A Democratic candidate hoping to flip a hotly contested congressional seat in Kansas has dropped out of the race after allegations that she sexually harassed a male subordinate resurfaced amid her campaign.Andrea Ramsey, 57, who was running to unseat...
Published: 12/16/17
Highlights of GOP compromise bill to overhaul tax code

Highlights of GOP compromise bill to overhaul tax code

WASHINGTON — Republicans in Congress have blended separate tax bills passed by the House and Senate into compromise legislation that seeks to achieve a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s tax code. GOP leaders are looking toward passage of the final pa...
Published: 12/15/17
Updated: 12/16/17
With Rubio, Corker back on board, GOP speeds ahead with tax plan

With Rubio, Corker back on board, GOP speeds ahead with tax plan

WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers on Friday secured enough votes to pass the most sweeping tax overhaul in decades, putting them on the cusp of their first significant legislative victory this year as party leaders geared up to pass a $1.5 trillion t...
Published: 12/15/17
Experts chart path for Hillsborough to grow smarter before sprawl takes over

Experts chart path for Hillsborough to grow smarter before sprawl takes over

TAMPA — Nearly 600,000 more people will live in Hillsborough County by 2040, and if elected officials and county planners don’t take bold steps now, the population boom will turn the county into the soulless sprawl of Anywhere, U.S.A.That’s the messa...
Published: 12/15/17
Tillerson retreats on offer of unconditional N. Korea talks

Tillerson retreats on offer of unconditional N. Korea talks

WASHINGTON — America’s top diplomat stepped back Friday from his offer of unconditional talks with North Korea, telling world powers that the nuclear-armed nation must earn the right to negotiate with the United States. Secretary of State Rex Tillers...
Published: 12/15/17
Judge signals release of ex-Trump chair Paul Manafort to Florida home under curfew and GPS monitoring

Judge signals release of ex-Trump chair Paul Manafort to Florida home under curfew and GPS monitoring

A federal judge Friday said a bail package has been put together that would release former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort from home confinement in his condominium in Virginia and allow him to reside at his house in Palm Beach Gardens, but unde...
Published: 12/15/17