Lawmakers pass incentive bill to attract new insurance companies to the state, but will it be enough?
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - On Friday, lawmakers had a pretty good idea of how they planned on voting on the two bills to attract new insurance companies to write policies in the state.
That became clear after just two short hours they managed to get them both sent to the governor’s desk. You don’t always see lawmakers working ahead of schedule, but that’s exactly what we got this week.
They had until Sunday to come up with a plan to get more insurance companies to write policies down here and managed to find a solution earlier this afternoon.
“I think we accomplished what the intended goal is. We now have an opportunity to provide the citizens of Louisiana, hopefully, some affordable insurance,” said Rep. Jerome Zeringue (R).
Amendments put on the bill by the House have been stripped away during committee Thursday. Today they were added back on with the exception of the one requiring new companies who get grants to take 25% of their policies from the state-run insurance company, Citizens. Worried keeping it would tie things up in the courts.
“At the end of the day it felt like something we had to do to keep people’s insurance until we get back in session and work on it some more,” said Sen. Bodi White (R).
“If we tried to put it in on the floor, some could question that we’re legislating in an appropriations bill which you cannot do,” Rep. Zeringue added.
So, now that the money is there, how long before you can expect to see cheaper options for insurance? According to Rep. Zeringue, the man who carried the bill, within the next 40 days, we should at least have an indication of how companies feel about the incentive and how they’ll participate.
“But even with that, they won’t get all the money upfront. They have to commit to 5 years and only receive 20% of that grant over that 5-year period. So, there are safeguards in place and there’s also the opportunity if they don’t fulfill their obligation that the state can go back and claw back that money they were offered,” Rep. Zeringue explained.
Governor John Bel Edwards put out a statement thanking the legislature for coming to an agreement. Also, acknowledging the incentive fund will only partially address the current crisis.
Only time will tell if any lawmakers plan on bringing up more legislation around this issue during the regular session. We’ll find out come April 10th.
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