WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) today delivered a speech on the U.S. Senate floor demanding the Biden administration halt massive hikes to National Flood Insurance Program premiums caused by Risk Rating 2.0.
“Louisiana has been hit hard by hurricanes over the past few years—Ida, Delta, Zeta, and Laura,” said Dr. Cassidy.“Folks in certain areas of my state are still recovering from those storms and are relying on their insurance to help them rebuild.”
“With Risk Rating 2.0, it feels like the administration is kicking us when we are trying to get back on our feet,” continued Dr. Cassidy.
Click here to watch Cassidy’s full speech.
Cassidy’s speech as prepared can be found below:
Risk Rating 2.0 has officially been in effect for almost a year, and families in Louisiana are feeling the disaster that is unfolding.
We are not talking about a storm or flood—which the National Flood Insurance Program is supposed to protect against.
We are talking about the financial crisis unfolding at kitchen tables across my state.
Families cannot afford the premium hikes that NFIP is planning with Risk Rating 2.0.
For some, premiums have become unaffordable and could collapse the value of their home.
For now, the rate hikes are capped at 18 percent each year.
But for the elderly couple who has lived in their home for 56 years, they are not thinking one year at a time.
They have no plan to move to a new home after one year.
18% percent each year adds up very quickly.
This is not a fictional example—these are real stories from real Americans I hear when I travel Louisiana.
The Bourgeois’s are an elderly couple in Raceland, Louisiana, who both turned 83 years old last year.
They have owned their home for 56 years.
Their home has never been in a flood zone and has never flooded once.
Before Risk Rating 2.0, they paid about 500 dollars per year for flood insurance.
After Risk Rating 2.0, they are scheduled to pay about 500 dollars per month once their full risk premium comes into effect.
Their full risk premium will reach 6,295 dollars in 14 years.
But, their annual payment will be nearly double in the 4th year.
How many 83-year-old retired couples do you know who can afford an extra 5,800 dollars in expenses without having to make sacrifices?
The holiday season just passed.
I am sure the Bourgeois family enjoyed Christmas with their children, and grandchildren, and nieces, and nephews.
But I am also sure there was an extra bit of budgeting this year.
Their family should not have to spend the holidays budgeting for unreasonable hikes to their flood insurance premiums because of the Biden administration’s failure to stop Risk Rating 2.0.
Families across Louisiana and America’s coastal communities are finding themselves in similar situations to the Bourgeois family.
Louisiana has been hit hard by hurricanes over the past few years—Ida, Delta, Zeta, and Laura.
Folks in certain areas of my state are still recovering from those storms and are relying on their insurance to help them rebuild.
With Risk Rating 2.0, it feels like the administration is kicking us when we are trying to get back on our feet.
So, it begs the question, why did they allow Risk Rating 2.0 to take effect?
Congress never passed a bill requiring that FEMA implement this.
President Biden could have stopped it with a stroke of a pen.
He had the power.
He should have asked FEMA to delay or cancel the implementation of Risk Rating 2.0—or reconsider it altogether.
Throughout the whole process, FEMA has not only been slow to share information with policyholders, they have been stonewalling my office.
They are not being upfront about the costs to policyholders.
Homeowners didn’t get any significant information from FEMA until less than a month before Risk Rating 2.0 was implemented.
Now, many Louisiana policyholders are getting notices in the mail of their new risk premiums.
And speaking to folks in my state, they feel blindsided.
The Bourgeois family was blindsided with they got this notice saying their full premium will climb to 6,295 a year.
We are here to serve the American people.
This rollout did not serve them well.
When the Biden administration says there was nothing they could do, history shows us otherwise.
In 2019, my office worked with the Trump administration to successfully delay implementation of Risk Rating 2.0.
They were open to our concerns in Louisiana and agreed to delay implementation.
Louisianans felt heard.
This time, the Biden administration refused to listen.
This time, we feel ignored.
And worse, too many families can’t afford to stay in their homes as a result of Risk Rating 2.0.
We are not just talking about the Bourgeois family.
I have a dozen more insurance bills from constituents showing massive premium hikes at no fault of their own.
They are being penalized just for living where their families have lived for generations.
Many policyholders are required by law to pay for flood insurance.
With Risk Rating 2.0, FEMA has put them in an impossible situation.
As people choose to drop out of the program due to increased premiums, the pool of homeowners becomes smaller, leaving those subject to the mandatory insurance requirements worse off.
They will face the difficult task of coming up with thousands more to pay their insurance or losing their homes.
This will end with 900,000 people losing their insurance coverage and Americans being forced to move.
Folks in Louisiana know there has to be another option.
Congress has taken steps to avoid major flooding in the future.
Louisiana has already received over 680 million dollars for coastal restoration, flood, and waterway projects from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
The Infrastructure bill is already delivering on its promises because Louisiana had a seat at the table.
But protecting families against flooding is only half of the solution.
The second half is ensuring families are not forced to move because of unaffordable flood insurance premiums.
Flood insurance must always remain affordable and accessible for the homeowner, accountable to the taxpayer, and sustainable for the future.
Only President Biden has the power to change that now, which means he has a responsibility to do so as well.
With that, I yield back.