Gov. Jay Nixon today signed Executive Order 11-12, which provides emergency protections for the insurance coverage of Joplin-area residents. The order temporarily forbids insurance companies from raising rates or canceling coverage for residents of Jasper and Newton counties.
For residents of these counties during the emergency period, the Governor's executive order:
- Prohibits insurance companies from increasing rates on any policy starting on or after May 22;
- Prohibits insurance companies from terminating coverage for any reason;
- Requires insurance companies to provide copies of policies to consumers at no charge; and
- For consumers with prescription drug coverage requires insurance companies to cover the cost of a prescription, even if the consumer had it filled recently.
"My order today ensures continuity of insurance coverage and rates for residents affected by the destruction in Joplin," Gov. Nixon said. "Many consumers in the affected area, understandably, may have difficulty accessing their insurance and financial records, and making their premium payments on time. The last thing they need to deal with immediately after such a devastating disaster is having their rates increased or having to obtain new insurance because they lost their current coverage."
Executive Order 11-12 requires John M. Huff, director of the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration, to enforce these regulatory changes to protect consumers in Jasper and Newton Counties.
On the evening of Sunday, May 22, Gov. Nixon activated the Missouri National Guard to respond to the tornadoes and severe storms that struck Joplin and surrounding areas. The governor also activated the State Emergency Operations Center and directed the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and the Highway Patrol to immediately assist local authorities.
Gov. Nixon has been in Joplin every day this week surveying the damage, meeting with residents and coordinating response efforts with local officials. Gov. Nixon has spoken with President Barack Obama on multiple occasions and continues to work with the administration to coordinate federal assistance. President Obama has extended federal disaster assistance to individuals, families and local units of government in Jasper and Newton counties to aid with recovery efforts.
Gov. Nixon issued Executive Order 11-10 allowing for continuity of medical care by allowing out-of-state physicians to temporarily practice in Missouri and allowing pharmacists to provide essential medication for citizens whose medical records are missing. Executive Order 11-11 allows citizens who have lost driver licenses and other state documents to obtain replacements at no charge from the Missouri Department of Revenue.
The governor has organized a community response meeting scheduled for 4 p.m. in Joplin today. At the meeting, state and federal officials will provide information about government services available to victims of the tornado. The meeting is at the Taylor Performing Arts Center at Missouri Southern State University.