The Massachusetts Senate has passed a bill to criminalize the practices of runners in insurance fraud schemes. The measure passed 39-0 and was sent to the House.
The measure makes it a crime to engage in the practice of running and for attorneys or medical providers to hire runners. Runners help stage accidents and injuries in order to defraud insurers.
The bill (SB 170) would impose up to a 2.5-year prison sentence and/or $5000 fine on violators.
The insurance industry has been pushing for this measure.
The National Association of Independent Insurers is supporting the bill, indicating that its passage “would help address the Bay State’s huge fraud problem and give prosecutors another tool in their attempt to crack down on this growing concern.”
According to Gerald L. Zimmerman, NAII senior counsel, “Runners are paid to find clients, patients or customers for fraudulent health care providers, which in turn bill insurers for the alleged service.”
He said insurance fraud is a growing concern in Massachusetts, citing a Boston Globe report that the illegal runners business is helping to fuel an estimated $80 million in suspected fraudulent personal injury claims, with consumers paying the price in higher premiums.
Zimmerman indicated that “S.B. 170 will provide one additional and necessary weapon in the fight against insurance fraud and help rein in the improper use of runners. By criminalizing certain aspects of the use of ‘runners,’ the bill will make it harder for unscrupulous lawyers and providers and their affiliates to perpetrate their fraudulent schemes. “
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