After repeated lobbying of the Florida Legislature for the past four or five years, the insurance industry finally got the “PIP reform” bill they wanted passed. The resulting legislation will undoubtedly be cause for celebration in the boardrooms of “Big Insurance” at the expense of Florida's insurance consumers. That's you and me. No one who has been following this controversy should be surprised.
For years, the mantra of the insurance industry has been that PIP generated fraud has cost the consumer millions in premium increases that could easily be avoided if reforms were enacted. Okay, sounds good. Good enough that the Senate version of the legislation contained a mandatory 25% “No-Fault” premium reduction in exchange for tightening PIP benefit payments. Apparently not good enough for the Florida House, which bullied the Senate into deleting this provision from the final draft of the bill.
The bill now sitting on Governor Scott's desk is basically a codified “wish list” written by State Farm, Allstate, and their fellow insurance industry giants. For example:
* PIP benefits will be denied to accident victims who do not seek
treatment within 14 days of the accident;
* The mandatory $10,000.00 in PIP benefits are only provided
to those who are diagnosed with an “emergency condition” by
an MD or DO, or receive treatment at a hospital emergency
* Chiropractors, long the bane of insurers, are prohibited from
diagnosing an “EMC”; should the injured person seek treatment
from a chiropractor, their PIP benefits are capped at $2500.00.
* Massage therapy and acupuncture ( therapies which have long
been accepted by the entire medical community) are NOT
covered by available PIP benefits.
* Greater use of mandatory physical exams by the insurance
company doctors, who routinely disallow further treatment
to truly injured patients.
What's the bottom line? Less coverage and benefits for the same or higher premiums, greater ammunition for the insurer to deny necessary treatment, and NO reduction of the “rampant” fraud that was used to justify the legislation in the first place. No one should oppose any effective provisions to eliminate “staged” accidents and put unscrupulous health care providers out of business. The problem is, the public has been sold a new PIP law under the guise of just that, while the reality is that the average consumer has just been victimized once more at the urging of the “Good Hands” people and their cronys over lobster and steak dinners with their elected officials in Tallahassee.
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