The Florida House voted 85-30 Friday to reform personal injury protection insurance, Florida’s no-fault auto coverage that lawmakers and insurers say is riddled with fraud and costing the state’s drivers millions of dollars.
The measure, HB 119, would restrict treatment options for motorists injured in automobile accidents — PIP pays up to $10,000 for injuries and lost wages, regardless of fault — and cap attorneys’ fees. Backers said it was needed to curb rampant fraud that insurers say has boosted premiums by 80 percent in Miami and 58 percent in Orlando in just two years.
“This is an issue that affects all Floridians,” said Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, the architect of the bill. “If we do nothing today, rates are going to go up 30 percent next year. We just can’t allow that to happen.”
The measure now goes to the Senate, where an alliance of physicians and trial lawyers is backing a bill that would strengthen anti-fraud procedures but would not restrict medical treatment options or attorneys’ fees. A similar battle last year resulted in a stalemate.
Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, said Thursday that he remained “very strongly in support” of the Senate’s proposal, written by Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart. But he said a bill will pass next week.
“We look forward to a invoice being handed and there will be fights over tort provisions, and what’s coated and what is not,” he said. will have to the 2 chambers now not succeed in an settlement sooner than the session ends subsequent Friday, Haridopolos stated he was once now not adversarial to a unique session devoted to PIP reform.
According to the state’s Office of Insurance Regulation, PIP claims paid by insurers went from $1.45 billion to $2.45 billion between 2008 and 2010, imposing what Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater has called a billion-dollar “fraud tax” on drivers.
Atwater and Gov. Rick Scott have made PIP reform a most sensible priority. In his weekend radio cope with, Scott known as the house bill a “excellent start.” however it’s vastly other from the Senate measure.
the house measure will require an injured motorist to are trying to find treatment inside seven days, preferably at a health center emergency room, but it might pay as much as $2,500 for remedy by a personal doctor. it is going to now not pay for chiropractic or acupuncture treatments, and would permit insurers to question drivers under oath, require develop notice of complaints and cap legal professionals’ charges.
The Senate does not go nearly as far. Its bill excludes massage therapy and acupuncture as allowable treatments, tightens licensing requirements for medical clinics and creates an organization to fight PIP fraud.
Democrats generally have liked the Senate means. In the house on Friday, Rep. Evan Jenne, D-Dania beach, termed PIP “unsustainable” and mentioned customers could be better off beneath a compulsory legal responsibility device.
“give protection to your constituencies, protect your customers,” he said, urging a “no” vote.
Rep. bill Hager, R-fort Lauderdale, said passing the bill could forestall insurers from purchasing “worthless again rubs.”
however Rep. Steve Perman, D-Boca Raton, anticipated the bill would have little effect. “the truth is crooks will nonetheless in finding ways to be disfair and sport the machine, and honest folks will undergo for it,” he mentioned.
After the largely birthday party-line vote, a coalition of business teams applauded the degree, expressing hope the Legislature may agree on a “significant law.”
Said Jose Gonzalez, a lobbyist for Associated Industries of Florida, “Our hardworking Florida businesses and consumers need relief, and they need it this session.”