Lousiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon used an opportunity to meet with President Obama to present him with a letter asking him to refrain from raising flood insurance rates for residents of his state.
The contents of the letter were not available, but it was written by Michael Hecht, president and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. Also signing on were the National Association of Homebuilders and the National Association of Realtors. NAFCU also has spoken out in favor of holding off on the FEMA rate hikes.
Donelon, president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, met with Obama on Nov. 20 along with NAIC CEO Ben Nelson, Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Thomas B. Leonardi and North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin to primarily address issues with the Affordable Care Act.
Donelon says he presented three to four pages of documentation prepared by the three groups about the "unintended consequences the rate increases will have on our economy," and asking the president for "forbearance." The documents were delivered "on behalf of Louisiana first, and two dozen other states to a lesser degree," the commissioner said during a conference call with reporters after the meeting.
"We have a working coast, not second or vacation homes," Donelon said. "This is important for Louisiana as well as the rest of the country. We need forbearance from the rate increases mandated by the 2012 law," he said.
The president agreed to read the letter, but did not make a commitment to act on it, Donelon added.
Asked why Louisiana, where 49% of flood insurance policies are subsidized, wanted special treatment while it has declined to open its own insurance exchange and will not accept the additional Medicaid funds states can access through a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Donelon acknowledged that Louisiana is the state that "most benefits" from subsidized flood insurance rates.
GNO and the associations of homebuilders and real estate agents previously outlined their problems with the 2012 Biggert-Waters Act at a hearing held Tuesday by a House Financial Services Committee subcommittee. Hecht testified that imposing the rate hikes would be "economically unwise and morally unjust."
Meanwhile, 15 members of the Senate led by Mary Landrieu (D-La.) introduced a bill as an amendment to the defense reauthorization act now on the Senate floor. The bill would delay the rate increases mandated by the 2012 Biggert-Waters Act for as long as four years in some cases, its supporters estimate.