Insurers are driving up the costs
In a recent column on what they call "lawsuit abuse," lobbyists for Florida's small-business sector blame lawyers for driving up costs for businesses, but the truth is, it's the insurance companies that are responsible.
In their article, the writers claim small businesses are "under attack" because local businesses are being sued "at unprecedented levels." They cite dubious statistics suggesting an increase in workers' compensation litigation had something to do with it.
As an attorney who represents injured workers, I know attorneys only get involved with workers' comp litigation when insurance companies wrongly deny benefits to injured workers who need and deserve those benefits. Insurers are the ones who pick the doctors who treat injured workers, and they pay attorney fees only after denying legitimate claims and ignoring treatments recommended by their own doctors.
The most outrageous outgrowth of the insurers' mentality is an unsupportable proposal from the insurance industry to raise workers' comp insurance rates by almost 20 percent. According to recent testimony by the former actuary for the Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate, that would cost Florida businesses more than $700 million in increased premiums — on top of the $1.8 billion in excess profits workers' comp insurers have reaped over the past decade.
Office of Insurance Regulation Commissioner David Altmaier is currently reviewing the proposed increase, and I am hopeful he will see through the smokescreen intended to conceal insurance industry greed.
If the insurance industry prevails in its unwarranted rate hike proposal, the losers will be the many excellent Florida businesses that keep our economy moving. Our state's smaller businesses should join with injured workers' advocates to oppose the increase instead of pointing fingers at the wrong target.
Mark Touby, Tallahassee
The writer is president of Florida Workers' Advocates and has represented businesses, injured workers and other groups on workers' compensation issues for the past 21 years.
Gov. Scott tries to ease Zika concerns Aug. 27
Stick to the facts
If Gov. Rick Scott really wants to ease concerns about the Zika virus, he should start by telling the truth. Aedes genus mosquitoes are heat-loving. Their range is expanding northward due to global warming. Yet Scott endorses for president an extremist who believes that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese for economic advantage. You can't make this stuff up.
Scott is quoted as saying "the federal government has not been a good partner." The truth is that his Republican colleagues in the do-nothing Congress are the ones who thumbed their noses at him and all Floridians and then went on vacation. The only people who have helped us are President Barack Obama, who released $600 million from other health reserves, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If Scott has any credibility left with the Republican members of Congress, he should direct his efforts and the truth at them.
Paul Robinson, Tarpon Springs
Trop site concept would lose I-175 | Aug. 28
We have to start somewhere
If Interstate 175 is eliminated, wouldn't that be a wonderful place to put light rail? We already have a lot of bike trails, and maybe a bike trail and light rail could be incorporated. Light rail along this route would not only make the whole area more accessible to the delights of central St. Petersburg, but it would be a starting point for a bigger system.
Yes, we need a regional plan, but maybe we could just start with some short routes and eventually hook them all together.
Better food for students
With the new school year starting, parents' to-do lists are filled with shopping for school clothes, school supplies and school food. That's right — school food.
In past years, our nation's schools were used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a dumping ground for surplus meat and dairy commodities. It is neither a surprise nor a coincidence that one-third of our children have become overweight or obese. Such dietary mistakes at an early age become lifelong addictions, raising their risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
Then came President Barack Obama's Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requiring double the servings of fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, less sodium and fat, and no meat for breakfast. The guidelines are supported by 86 percent of Americans.
Most U.S. school districts now offer vegetarian options. Many school districts observe Meatless Mondays.
As parents, we need to involve our own children and school cafeteria managers in promoting healthy, plant-based foods in our own schools.
Thomas Carter, Tampa
Ethical double standard | Aug. 28, letter
Candidate, foundation split
This letter begins with a faulty premise. The writer states that Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation have announced that she will resign from the foundation and distance herself from its activities if she is elected president and asks, "If this is a good idea when she is president, why wasn't it a good idea when she was secretary of state?" In fact, Hillary Clinton was not a participant in the Clinton Foundation while secretary of state and had no role in the foundation until after she left the State Department in 2013. She resigned again in 2015 before she announced her run for president.
The Clintons have already promised that if she becomes president, she would abide by the previous agreement when she was secretary of state by blocking all foreign donations and also any paid speeches by Bill Clinton. Hillary ended her public speeches before she began her campaign.
Alison Strickland, Seminole