In 2012, the legislature passed a PIP "reform" bill that limited benefits for consumers dramatically. In effect, our former $10,000 PIP benefit is reduced to $2,500 unless a consumer goes to the emergency room within 14 days. This is not the way to fight fraud. The way to fight fraud is to go after the criminals. This proved to be too hard for the insurance companies and the legislators, so they simply took away benefits.
Under the new law, to get any PIP benefits, victims must go the emergency room and may only be treated by a couple types of doctors, and would not be eligible for any other treatment unless prescribed for the injuries detected at the hospital. Hospital emergency rooms are already overcrowded and the ER is the most expensive way to treat anyone. The new law will just make things worse and people may not get the care they need.
If you miss out on your PIP benefits because of the new law, or if your use up your $10,000 of PIP benefits, your health insurance kicks in. So, the new law means that health insurance companies would pay more of the costs for auto injuries meaning that your health insurance premiums would go up.
Of course, the new law cuts attorney fees, so if you’re not happy with how your insurance company treats you, too bad. You won’t be able to sue. But your insurance company will have no limit on how much they can spend on attorneys and investigators, and then pass along to ratepayers through higher premiums. Governor Scott has hired a PR company and created a campaign called Gear Up, which staged some accidents for reporters and held a rally at the Capitol. He say’s he’s going to fix the “billion dollar PIP tax.” He offers no proof that there is a billion dollars of additional PIP costs, and Sen. Negron said that the number was imaginary.
FCAN believes that the new law is too radical for many legislators in an election year. FCAN is working with a coalition that includes health care providers, hospitals, attorneys, consumer groups, and health care advocacy groups. We think we’ve been able to debunk some of the myths about PIP and show people why it matters.
PIP is sometimes the only insurance auto crash victims have. That means it’s the only money hospitals and doctors get paid, no matter how expensive the treatment and it can be veryexpensive. PIP helps keep health care provider and hospital ledgers in balance. The Legislature imposed a new fee schedule that reduces reimbursments that holds down what insurers have to pay, but then hospitals and doctors make up the loss elsewhere. Guess where?
Yes, we do need to stop fraud, but the way to do it is through dedicated fraud prosecutors and law enforcement teams. We know that works. Cracking down on crooks is the answer, not taking benefits from consumers. Dedicated prosecutors in Miami, Tampa, and Orlando have driven fraudsters out of Florida. Law enforcement works! Penalize the crooks, not consumers.