Spring is in the air! The clocks have sprung ahead, Spring breakers will soon add to the season crush, and Florida PIP survived the FL House’s spring session ax again. Here at the LaBovick Law Group, we are pleased, for a number of reasons, to have another year without the concern of imminent PIP insurance changes.
Many of you have asked us why PIP was on the chopping block and what happened in Tallahassee this session. Please continue reading for an in-depth recap of the 2018 Legislative Session and the overall state of Florida PIP!
The Florida House of Representatives
The Florida House overwhelmingly voted to pass a bill that would repeal Florida PIP as we know it. The House proposed a switch to a mandatory bodily system excluding both PIP and Medical Payments (Med-Pay). An actuarial study found that monthly expenses would decrease by $60-70 if PIP was repealed. However, the study did not account for an increased cost if the state were to shift to a mandatory bodily injury system. Regardless, the Florida House voted for and passed their mandatory bodily injury bill. This vote was unanimous. The House will continue to pass bills on a yearly basis. It’s the nature of the group. However, the Senate must also chime in and vote to ensure a bill is passed.
Thus, it was up to the Senate to vote for a similar bill, pass the House’s bill, or preserve PIP in its current state. Fortunately, the Florida Senate could not get their act together.
What Did the Senate Propose?
Initially, the Senate proposed a bill that would repeal PIP but include $5,000.00 in Medical Payments. Thus, you would have a system of mandatory bodily injury along with $5,000.00 in Med-Pay. The Senate found this to be a reasonable compromise. The House did not like a Med Pay provision. The House wanted to repeal PIP altogether and strictly offer a mandatory bodily injury system. They wanted to do away with first-party insurance litigation altogether.
During last-second negotiations, the Senate proposed a plan for Florida drivers that included $15,000 in Medical Payments, mandatory bodily injury while repealing PIP. This plan would have accomplished nothing. The $5,000.00 in Med Pay is basically a limited PIP policy. The Senate simply was formulating a strategy to appease the opponents of the PIP repeal. Insurance commissions, lawyer groups, hospitals and medical professionals provided testimony as to why PIP should stay. The Senate understood the argument against repealing PIP. They also understood these measures were unpopular.
Fortunately, a fight broke out about bad faith reform at the time of the PIP vote. A few Senate members wanted personal injury / bodily injury bad faith to be taken out of the law. Others argued that insurers should be punished for perpetrating shady and bad dealings with their insureds.
The main crux of the argument is that a mandatory bodily injury system will cost drivers more in the long run. Why? Increased personal injury lawsuits. The consumer will certainly see their premiums rise as a result. The Senate voted to uphold PIP, for now. Technically, the Senate reserved time to go back and vote once again. We do not anticipate this to occur in that the legislative session officially ends March 9. A budget must be submitted at that time as well. Thus, Florida PIP is here to stay, at least for another year.
The good news is – PIP is here to stay! The bad news is that PIP is generally up against repeal on a yearly basis.
We cannot stress enough the urgency to fight insurers tooth and nail. Insurers feel as if they have an advantage due to the never-ending saga that is Florida PIP. Many insurers are denying and delaying payment. Others are reducing payment despite your office sending proper medical records to support necessary medical treatment. Do not delay! Send us your files regardless of why payment has been omitted or underpaid. We fight insurers large and small. We do not cherry-pick. We litigate all issues across the board.
PIP Should Stay. Why? Because It’s the Reasonable Solution
As most of you know, the Florida PIP law has been amended to include anti-fraud provisions, such as the “EMC portion” (Emergency Medical Condition) of the law. The law is strong as it stands. Hospitals are treating patients in connection with emergency medical conditions. Hospitals are essential to Florida. Physicians treat patients in hospitals on an emergency basis. Swift and automatic payment ensure that our emergency responders get to patients in need. Moreover, PIP ensures your practices are able to treat patients who need care due to motor vehicle accidents. The expeditious nature of reimbursement ensures your essential treatment continues without delay.
Florida PIP, though, will remain in place with no changes. That’s right – it remains intact. Thus, the same rules and same procedures. We are awaiting multiple decisions in the appellate courts throughout the state of Florida. However, this year’s legislative session is just about over, and no amendments have passed both the House and the Senate. Thus, continue billing PIP as you always have.
We’ll continue to advocate for PIP in our great state. We frequently travel to Tallahassee to do so. We encourage all medical providers throughout the state of Florida to also get involved. Call your representatives and senators. Send letters to the Insurance Commission. Plan on attending PIP-related hearings in Tallahassee next year. It’s important that we continue our grassroots movement. Many lawyer groups are attempting to circumvent our efforts to encourage a mandatory bodily injury system. Every voice counts!
The legislative session ends March 9; however, the fight continues. We expect PIP to be on the chopping block once again in 2019. We must continue to extol the virtues of PIP to our representatives and senators in Tallahassee. The repeal votes this year were too close for comfort.
We’re always here to discuss hot topics in PIP, legislative maneuvering and what PIP means to you. Feel free to contact our legal team directly.