Abrupt end to the PIP reform effort in Florida


shutterstock_67782538The bid to bring about a change in reforms in Florida’s PIO insurance cover came to an abrupt end after the House committee rejected the comprehensive reform bill by a single vote.

In spite of widespread efforts and coordination from the state officials, insurers, and consumer forums such as the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud as well as the Sunshine Alliance to Erase Fraud, the House Subcommittee on Health Care and Human Services by a margin of 9 to 8 voted down the HB 967/HB1411 which made a far-reaching attempt to bring about reforms to the no-fault laws in the state since 2007.

There were provisions in the combined bills to reduce fraud, lower the cost of litigation, as well as controlling the medical costs. The combined bill would have, among other things, tied the PIP or Personal Injury Protection medical reimbursements to the Medicare rates thereby allowing insurers to keep a schedule or maximum charges as a benchmark for the medical services that are offered. There would have also been limitations with regard to the legal costs and fees and insurers would have been given more time and better tools to investigate claims, and state officials would have had access to better resources to combat fraud.

The regional vice president at Property Casualty Insurer Association of America, William Stander, expressed disappointment over the abrupt end of the PIP reform. He also stated that the industry had been hopeful that the new Legislature would help bring about changes as it was pro-business and the chances of achieving the reform had been very good. But indeed, lawmakers had decided not to go forward with the PIP reform, irrespective of whether it was pro-business or not.

The probable reason for pushing aside the PIP bills could be due to the fact that lawmakers are presently more preoccupied with yet another insurance issue that needs immediate attention, which is – what should be done with property insurance as well as the state’s Citizens Property Insurance Corp.

Stander also stated that everyone had their eyes on the property and their biggest challenge was in convincing lawmakers that the PIP crisis was looming large, although it may not have been felt at the retail level. However, between property as well as opposition of medical providers and lawyers, the PIP reform had proved to be a difficult issue.

Paul Jess who represented the Florida Justice Association felt that the insurance industry was to be blamed for the defeat in the PIP reform.