|Posted by Anne Siren on November 2, 2012 at 3:10 PM|
Lauderdale-By-The-Sea – As the edge of Hurricane Sandy brought wind and rain to South Florida last Friday, State Senators Ellyn Bogdanoff and Maria Sachs met here to answer questions from voters.
Because of redistricting, Bogdanoff [Dist. 25] and Sachs [Dist. 30] are running to represent new Dist. 34.
Moderated by attorney Chuck Maxwell and organized by the LBTS Chamber of Commerce at Blue Moon Fish Co., both senators fielded questions and criticism.
Condemning both candidates at the start was LBTS Commissioner Mark Brown. “I am disappointed in both of you for running a negative campaign,” he said.
Brown also asked what each candidate would do to bring down the costs of insurance through Citizens, the state’s property insurance company.
“Government should never be in the business of insurance,” said Sachs.
Bogdanoff agreed, saying that Citizens had “gone rogue” by bypassing a state law prohibiting the company from increasing rates on existing customers by more than 10 percent. Bogdanoff said Citizens got around the law by kicking people off its rolls and then bringing them back classified as new customers.
She added that the legislature should look at ways of making reinsurance cheaper. To spread the risk, many insurance companies buy their own insurance policies with reinsurance companies and those reinsurance companies play a deciding factor in setting rates.
The other big insurance issue, healthcare, also came up and again the two candidates agreed.
Bogdanoff and Sachs blamed insurance companies for driving up healthcare costs. Bogdanoff, a former insurance agent, said once doctors started letting insurance companies process their claims rates began to rise. “It happened so slowly. It’s almost like gaining weight. I would like to turn the clock back,” said Bogdanoff.
“We need to get them out of our businesses, out of our hospitals,” said Sachs about insurance companies.
One health issue they disagreed on was ultrasounds for women getting abortions.
In June of 2011, Governor Rick Scott signed HB 1127 which requires doctors to provide women getting an abortion with an ultrasound. The woman can refuse to view the ultrasound but she has to sign a document stating she declined of her own free will and wasn’t under any undue influence. When the life of the mother is at stake or the pregnancy is the result of rape, incest, domestic violence, or human trafficking, a doctor does not have to provide an ultrasound.
Sachs opposed the bill, saying she trusts the women of Florida to make their own decisions. Bogdanoff supported the bill, saying she viewed it as a way to ensure that poor women have better access to ultrasounds.
Sachs also called attention to the insurance industry’s support of Bodganoff. “Every insurance company in Florida is supporting my opponent,” said Sachs.
Bogdanoff countered with the support trial lawyers are giving Sachs and said insurance companies were behind her because of her past as an insurance agent who understands how the industry works.
On the economy and education, Sachs said a strong economy depends on a strong education system, especially well-funded universities. She cited Google, Apple and Facebook, saying those companies weren’t started by corporations but by college students. “By cutting education we’re cutting our legs,” she said.
Bogdanoff said she supports merit pay for teachers who perform better than their peers. “I think it’s important to reward employees for doing a better job.” She also supports giving local school districts more autonomy in how they spend their funding.
Both candidates also expressed support for business with Sachs saying fees shouldn’t be raised on small businesses. To raise money, she suggested the state’s cigarette tax could be increased instead. “I’m a moderate, pro-business democrat. Always have been, always will be,” said Sachs.
Bogdanoff suggested tax breaks for the marine industry which produces a lot of jobs. “The marine industry really does spread the wealth,” Bogdanoff said.
Both candidates are up for election Nov. 6.