Fired-up Scott champions House PIP reform critics call anti-consumerby Dara Kam | January 25th, 2012
A fired-up Gov. Rick Scott gave proponents of changes to the state’s no-fault insurance laws a lesson in politics, urging them to knock on lawmakers’ doors and let them have it.
Scott joined a crusade led by business industry leaders and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater pushing legislation intended to crack down on personal injury protection insurance fraud the governor said is costing Floridians $1 billion a year.
And today Scott came out in favor of the House’s PIP fix, that would require people injured in auto accidents to be treated in emergency rooms within 72 hours, cap attorneys’ fees and prohibit chiropractors or massage therapists from providing follow-up care.
“This is how laws get changed. Show up and let your legislators know what you want. You’re sick and tired of this $1 billion a year of fraud. You’re tired of it. You’re tired of scammers taking advantage of you. You’re tired of attorneys taking advantage of you. Enough is enough. We need to change this,” Scott told dozens of PIP reform advocates at a press conference on the fourth-floor rotunda in the Capitol. “Now. How do you do it? You do exactly what you’re doing here. You show up and then you go to everybody’s office.”
The press conference came on the heels of a House committee’s approval of HB 119. Proponents of the changes – including Scott – say they’re needed to cut back on fraud like staged auto accidents that are causing auto insurance premiums in some areas to skyrocket.
But critics of the House measure who favor a Senate version sponsored by Stuart Republican Joe Negron say the bill is anti-consumer because it limits consumers’ choices.
“This bill is the thing of consumers’ nightmares and of insurance bigwigs’ dreams,” Bill Newton, executive director of Florida Consumer Action Network, said in a statement.
Even with Scott’s support, the House bill, passed by the House Civil Justice Committee along partisan lines this morning, is in trouble, however. Even some GOP committee members said they can’t support the measure in its current form, setting the stage for an ongoing battle between doctors, chiropractors, massage therapists, insurers and attorneys.