Florida Gov. Scott, Insurance Chief McCarty Oppose Senate PIP Bill

March 9, 2012

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has blasted a Senate bill to reform the state’s personal injury protection (PIP) auto insurance system claiming the bill does not provide adequate reform and could make the system even more costly.

Scott was joined in criticism of the Senate bill by Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty.

The criticisms came as Florida’s regular legislative session reached its final day, increasing the odds that lawmakers will be returning for a special session to attempt to reform the no-fault auto insurance law.

Scott said the House of Representatives should reject the Senate plan, claiming it will not reduce insurance rates and will only further increase costs. Taking a clear shot at insurance, doctors, and attorneys, he said the bill is tailored to the desires of those industries as opposed to being in the public interest.

“The Senate bill seems like it is has been written by special interests,” Scott said to a meeting of the Florida Chamber. “It is not going to reduce fraud at all. The House bill does and we’ve got to focus on that.”

McCarty, the state insurance regulator, folllowed Scott’s criticism with his own. He said the PIP bill is not a fix to the system at all and could lead to a disruption in an already unsteady market. “There are some provisions in the Senate bill that we fear are going to exacerbate the problems,” McCarty.

The House bill would require that all accident victims be treated within 72 hours of an injury at an emergency room, cutting out clinics and restricting the types of health care providers who treat PIP patients. It gives accident victims up to 14 days of medical treatment. Licensed physical therapists would be eligible for reimbursements under PIP policies, but massage therapists and acupuncturists would be excluded.

The Senate version would limit care to 24 visits or to services rendered within 12 weeks of an accident, unless the insurer approves additional treatment. Critics say this will open the door to legal disputes. The Senate bill also allows chiropractors to treat PIP patents, a position rejected by the House, but supported by McCarty.

Critics say the senate bill doesn’t go far enough.

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater said he is not taking sides in the debate between the House and Senate. He said his goal is to get the best bill possible.

“This is not about starting to pick a fight,” said Atwater. “It’s a fight for consumer.”

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