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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

House panel approves PIP overhaul

11

January

Voting along party lines, the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee approved a new no-fault auto insurance system that would require people injured in accidents to make emergency rooms their first stop.

Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, who introduced the legislation, said this new Emergency Care Coverage system would end fraud by requiring hospital physicians to diagnose most injuries within 72 hours of an auto accident. But Democrats said the legislation goes too far. Boyd's bill would limit personal choice and requires lengthy emergency room visits, they argued.

“It basically throws out the baby with the bathwater," Rep. Richard Steinberg, D-Miami Beach, said about the proposal.

Other PIP reform proposals were less problematic, Democrats said, such as bills sponsored by Sen. Joe Negron, R-Palm City, and Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne. Negron's bill, filed last week, hasn't been assigned to committees but does have the support of Senate President Mike Haridopolos. Workman's bill has been languishing in the Insurance and Banking Subcommittee since November.

Although Boyd's PIP bill was approved by the subcommittee, several Republican members said they are open to future changes. Rep. John Wood, R-Haines City, said he favors adjustments to allow doctors, chiropractors and physical therapists to provide follow-up treatment and wants a provision that caps attorney fees removed. The bill has also been assigned to three other committees.

Florida's Office of Insurance Regulation is supportive of the Emergency Care Coverage system, legislative affairs director Monte Stevens said during the subcommittee meeting. Asked about Negron and Workman's bills, he said Boyd's proposal was the best opportunity to end PIP fraud.

“We believe the one we’re focusing on today takes the biggest step in stamping this out," Stevens said.

The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America also released a statement saying it supports House Bill 119.

[Last modified: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 11:56am]

    

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