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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Senate needs to try again on PIP reform, Scott says

8

March

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From left, Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, Florida CFO Jeff Atwater, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott address the PIP insurance bill, Thursday, being debated in the Florida Legislature. Scott said he is confident the Senate will strengthen its PIP reform legislation by adding new restrictions on service providers and attorney fees, but time is winding down. [Scott Keeler, Times]

Gov. Rick Scott said he is confident the Senate will strengthen its PIP reform legislation by adding new restrictions on service providers and attorney fees, but time is winding down.

The Senate sent its proposal for reforming the no-fault car insurance system over to the House on Wednesday, but it is much different than the one the House approved. Now Scott, Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater say the House should kick the issue back over to the Senate so it can continue working on its plan.

Without any changes, they said, Senate's version of HB 119 won't lower insurance rates and could make the problem worse.

“It’s clear that the House has a bill that’s going to make more sense,” Scott said.

The governor used even stronger language in a web video released by the Florida Chamber of Commerce Thursday morning.

“The Senate bill, it seems like it’s been written by special interest,” Scott said. “The Senate bill is not going to reduce the fraud at all. The House bill does, so we’ve got to focus on that.”

However, trial attorneys and consumer groups are urging senators to stand firm on their version of PIP reform. Senators are also defending the measure, saying it has several provisions that will lead to lower premiums, including tighter regulations of medical clinics and language that specifically calls on insurance companies to adjust rates.

A former Senate president himself, Atwater has tried not to pick sides during the PIP debate. During the news conference, he said his goal wasn't to find fault with either chamber but to urge PIP changes that aid consumers.

“This is not anybody starting to pick a fight with anybody,” Atwater said. “It’s a fight for the consumers of Florida.”

[Last modified: Thursday, March 8, 2012 4:50pm]

    

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