PIP reform efforts get started in Capitol | Nov. 18
Sensible reforms to PIP needed
Personal injury protection fraud is not only a problem for Florida consumers and insurance companies. It also is a law enforcement problem. In the years since a 2000 grand jury report called PIP a "personal slush fund" for legal and medical professionals, there has been a dramatic rise in staged accidents designed to bilk insurance companies.
Undercover investigations reveal that participants in staged accidents are typically part of organized crime rings involving not only those staging crashes, but also PIP medical clinics and personal injury attorneys. These parties have banded together in tight-knit groups that are difficult to infiltrate. PIP fraud investigations are lengthy operations that require multiple law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and courts to expend significant resources.
The Florida Sheriffs Association has joined Gear Up Florida, a coalition of businesses, law enforcement organizations and citizens that aims to put the brakes on automobile crash fraud. Gear Up Florida recommends the Legislature pass a series of four commonsense fixes to Florida's no-fault law: 1) Allow insurance companies more time to investigate suspicious claims; 2) Place reasonable caps on attorney's fees to eliminate the incentive to file nuisance lawsuits; 3) Increase oversight and accountability for medical providers that treat PIP claimants; and 4) Prevent the overuse of alternative medical treatments.
It is imperative that the Legislature fix Florida's no-fault system. Contact your senator and representative and ask them to protect your interests as an automobile insurance consumer.
For more information about PIP fraud or to join the coalition, visit the Gear Up Florida website at www.GearUpFlorida.com.
Ben Johnson, president, Florida Sheriffs Association
PIP reform efforts get started in Capitol Nov. 18
When they talk reform,
hold on to your wallet
God help us: The Florida Legislature is going to reform PIP. Why? Because of fraud. Every time I hear that our elected representatives are going to reform something I shudder and instinctively reach for my back pocket to see if my wallet is still there.
The Legislature just reformed sinkhole insurance because of alleged fraud, but the fact is not one homeowner in the state of Florida has ever been convicted of sinkhole fraud. The result of that reform has been significantly higher insurance rates, less coverage, greater difficulty in making a claim, and refusal of insurance companies to offer coverage. It's been a defeat for homeowners and a victory for the insurance industry.
I can predict that PIP reform from this Legislature will result in higher rates, less coverage, and greater difficulty in making claims and seeking legal redress. How can I be so sure? Because the Republican-controlled Legislature is not working for the homeowner and the consumer. It is working for the insurance industry.
The insurance industry spent over $13 million in 2010 to influence insurance legislation. Our elected representatives represent the insurance companies, not the voters. Money talks; we only vote.
Lynn W. Lindeman, Hudson
We should all get such care | Nov. 18, letter
Not quite gold-plated
Yes, it would be nice if everyone had a health care plan like U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has, but it is not as good as the letter writer assumes. The federal health care plan is better than many, but not as good as many. It is certainly not free.
The employees pay about one-third of the premium. Also, every employer-supplied health plan is "paid for by the American people" — when they buy a new car, borrow money or get a haircut. I think we should see some facts before we trade our plans for the federal one.
John Dorgan, Spring Hill
Insurance isn't free
The letter writer is mistaken. Government employees and retirees, including members of Congress, do not have "government insurance paid for by the American people." We belong to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan, an "exchange" (remember that term from Obamacare) of private insurers such as Blue Cross, Aetna, Coventry, etc., and we buy the coverage we want paying a portion of our premiums as our employer pays the remainder.
I currently pay $419 a month for standard option/self only. One of the objectives of the new law, which Florida's Republican leaders are trying so desperately to have repealed, is to move all citizens into similar exchanges. There, they will have many options from which to choose the coverage they desire at prices they can afford.
Sally F. Martin, Tampa
Panel fails, we'll all pay | Nov. 22
Voters should take action
The current U.S. national debt is $15 trillion and projected to go up to $20 trillion in 2017. The current debt is close to 100 percent of our GDP, which is approaching the crisis stage currently in Greece and Italy.
The inaction by the deficit reduction committee in Washington to agree on $1.2 trillion in debt reduction means it is time for the voters to take action. First, we should vote for term limits (12 years) for all members of the House and Senate. Second, we should vote all federal incumbents out of office, starting with the president and all members of Congress up for election in 2012.
The U.S. and world economy is in serious financial condition. We need to take action now, not 10 years from now.
Tom Anderson, Dunedin
Atrocity, than vanity | Nov. 16 commentary
Brooks off the mark
I am disappointed in the way David Brooks tried to equate the inaction of all involved in the Penn State University child sex abuse scandal with the lack of response during the Holocaust, Rwanda genocide or street beatings.
All of his examples could potentially bring physical, maybe even fatal, harm to the reporting bystander. What could possibly be lost by reporting child sex abuse other than maybe a job? Though it is hard to say how we would have responded when witnessing such a horrific crime, I think it reasonable to opine that even the average person would have at the very least called the police.
Sorry, Mike McQueary, but the vice president of finance and business, who was in charge of campus police, is not a sworn officer of the law.
Brooks is off the mark.
Stacey Kroto, Pinellas Park