Across Florida
What's happening on other political blogs?


PIP: Scott ‘arm bending’ works. DLP ‘phoney-baloney’ rant. Negron ‘not a home-and-away’ game.

by Dara Kam | March 9th, 2012

Gov. Rick Scott scored a huge victory late Friday night when the Florida Senate signed off on a last-ditch effort to crack down on personal injury protection fraud.

By a narrow 21-19 vote, the once-again divided Senate agreed to the compromise language passed earlier this evening by the House, and then passed the measure (HB 119) 22-17.

But the vote elicited rebukes from some senators who wanted the upper chamber to stand its ground and refuse to concur with the proposal – crafted largely by insurance industry lobbyists – in a debate highlighted by a stemwinder by Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami.

Diaz de la Portilla, a lawyer, repeatedly called the deal a “phoney baloney” attempt to combat fraud and pilloried the House for bowing to powerful insurance lobbyists and the governor, who made PIP reform his top priority this legislative session. Diaz de la Portilla had convinced the Senate in its version of the PIP reform to keep intact “multipliers” allowing lawyers to be paid escalated fees. The compromise did away with that but, in a concession to the Senate, did not cap attorneys’ fees or set an hourly rate.

Growing more incensed as his rant went on, Diaz de la Portilla said that PIP scams aren’t the real fraud.

“I think the House measure that’s been sent over to us and that we’re being asked to concede to, that’s the fraud. It’s a fraud on the consumers of the state of Florida. It’s a fraud on the people who have to buy these policies by law. It’s a fraud on those who are injured in accidents. It’s a fraud because it basically is the Insurance Company Relief Act of 2012. That’s what it is. That’s exactly what we’re talking about,” Diaz de la Portilla said, referring to the package as “phoney-baloney” at least three times to the delight of a bipartisan group of senators surrounding him.

The compromise does not require a set rate reduction, as the Senate plan did, but requires an actuarial analysis by an independent party to back up a detailed explanation of insurers’ rates if they do not roll back by 10 percent by October and 25 percent by 2014.
Sen. Dennis Jones, a Seminole chiropractor who said he is probably the only senator who actually treated a PIP patient, called the bill a “very, very punitive” measure for chiropractors. Patients will now be limited to $2,500 worth of chiropractic treatment, a change from the 24 visits over three months now allowed.

Gov. Rick Scott scored a huge victory late Friday night when the Florida Senate signed off on a last-ditch effort to crack down on personal injury protection fraud.

By a narrow 21-19 vote, the once-again divided Senate agreed to the compromise language passed earlier this evening by the House, and then passed the measure (HB 119) 22-17.

But the vote elicited rebukes from some senators who wanted the upper chamber to stand its ground and refuse to concur with the proposal – crafted largely by insurance industry lobbyists – in a debate highlighted by a stemwinder by Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami.

Diaz de la Portilla, a lawyer, repeatedly called the deal a “phoney baloney” attempt to combat fraud and pilloried the House for bowing to powerful insurance lobbyists and the governor, who made PIP reform his top priority this legislative session. Diaz de la Portilla convinced the Senate in its version of the PIP reform to keep intact “multipliers” allowing lawyers to be paid escalated fees. The compromise did away with that but, in a concession to the Senate, did not cap attorneys’ fees or set an hourly rate.

Growing more incensed as his rant went on, Diaz de la Portilla said that PIP scams aren’t the real fraud.

“I think the House measure that’s been sent over to us and that we’re being asked to concede to, that’s the fraud. It’s a fraud on the consumers of the state of Florida. It’s a fraud on the people who have to buy these policies by law. It’s a fraud on those who are injured in accidents. It’s a fraud because it basically is the Insurance Company Relief Act of 2012. That’s what it is. That’s exactly what we’re talking about,” Diaz de la Portilla said, referring to the package as “phoney-baloney” at least three times to the delight of a bipartisan group of senators surrounding him.

Sen. Dennis Jones, a chiropractor who said he is probably the only senator who actually treated a PIP patient, called the bill a “very, very punitive” measure for chiropractors. Patients will now be limited to $2,500 worth of chiropractic treatment, a change from who will now be limited to $2,500 worth of treatment. The House originally wanted to cut chiros out from PIP treatment altogether.

“I know it’s late and I know you all just want to flush something out and go home,” Jones, R-Seminole, said, adding “You’re making a major, major mistake.”

Scott worked lawmakers especially hard on PIP, stepping up pressure as the clock wound down toward the session end Friday. The governor gave hand-written thank you notes to House and Senate members who voted “yes” on the bill.

But Jones wasn’t on that list, especially after calling out Scott before the vote.

“Most people have had their arms bent or twisted or been down to the governors office two or three times,” Jones said.

Sen. Joe Negron, the Stuart Republican who brokered the deal for the Senate and sponsored the chamber’s trial lawyer-friendlier proposal, rejected his colleague’s criticism that the Senate would be giving up too much by taking the House offer.

It isn’t true “that somehow we’ve been run out of the gym by the House and we shouldn’t concur on their message because we passed our bill and by God our bill is better than their bill,” Negron said. “Anytime you have a bill of this magnitude, you’ve got to make principled compromises and find a middle ground.”

Negron then defended his efforts to keep chiropractors in the mix at all.

“The House wanted to take chiropractors, tie two 50-pound cement blocks to their ankles and drop them over the boat into the bottom of the ocean. And they were never going to be heard from in PIP again. I found that very offensive,” Negron, a lawyer, said.

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a former Senate president who pushed alongside Scott for the overhaul, called Senate critics “dead wrong” about the deal.

“The Senate got all its fraud language. The Senate got all its licensure language. The Senate got room for chiropractic care. The Senate did not cap attorneys fees. The Senate did a fine job. The House was very firm on driving the cost drivers of utilization down. They came together with a really solid compromise,” Atwater said.

Atwater said he’s certain premiums will decrease although the bill does not require it.

“I think they’re going to see when that independent study comes down that they’re going to indicate rates need to be coming down. They need to come down now,” he said.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

5 Responses to “PIP: Scott ‘arm bending’ works. DLP ‘phoney-baloney’ rant. Negron ‘not a home-and-away’ game.”

  1. mike Says:

    Atwater is the one who is wrong. So sad to see a fine man dance to the insurance industry beat. Pathetic.

  2. Florida Justice Reform Institute Says:

    STATEMENT

    The following statement was released Friday by Florida Justice Reform Institute President William Large regarding the passage of PIP legislation.

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Contact: Allison North Jones
    March 9, 2012 (850) 322-6701

    “Today the Florida Legislature ended the practice of exponentially increasing litigation costs associated with PIP by removing the use of attorney fee multipliers, which benefited attorneys at the expense of consumers.”

    # # #

  3. Jim Says:

    The Florida justice reform institute is a branch of the Florida chamber of commerce, their goal is to represent the insurance industry,corporations, increase their profits and has nothing what so ever to do with actual justice. They lobby for the insurance industry at the expense of the citizens of Florida.
    This legislation is not a victory for the people of Florida, but it is one for insurance companies and their lobbyists at the expense of Floridians.
    Do not be fooled by the fancy name, if they had the interests of Florida’s citizens at heart they would not have to try using the name Florida Justice Reform Institute to deceive the citizens of Florida about the true nature of their agenda.

  4. RIP-OFF PARTY = FASCISM Says:

    So the insurance companies own Florida.

    So much for democracy.

    THANKS A LOT FASCIST RIGHT WING.

    THEY HAVE FAILED FLORIDIANS OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

    ENOUGH!

    GET ANGRY!

    VOTE THEM ALL OUT!

    REPLACE THEM WITH NEW DEMOCRATS.

  5. luis Says:

    THE NEW PIP REFORM 2012 LAW, THE BIGGEST FRAUD OF ALL ON THE FLORIDA CITIZEN BY THE INSURANCE LOBBY MACHINE
    WOW – the newly passed PIP reform HB 119 is the biggest fraud of all on the Florida citizen. Instead of going after the fraudsters (as they promised), they passed “PIP REFORM” decreasing citizen medical benefits, access and choice…and the poor citizen gets to pay the same high premiums.
    Here’s what happened (read it yourself at HB 119):
    • The insurance companies can continue to charge the same high premiums, BUT the citizen only gets $2,500 in medical benefits instead of the previous $10,000 – unless they’re severely injured, good luck with only $10,000 on that one.
    • Instead of going after the true fraudsters (as they promised and should have done), the insurance lobby went after the Florida citizen.
    • The insurance companies will make record, record profits (as they always make…year in, year out) off this law. Same high premiums, 75% less benefits ($2,500 versus previous $10,000), you figure it out!
    • The insurance companies have already started donating (paying back for their vote) money to the political cronies that voted for this travesty on the citizen – in the sum of millions of dollars.
    This is “great for the Florida consumer,” says Gov. Scotty and his cronies…really???? WOW! Talk about crony corruption/capitalism, WOW!
    WAKE UP Florida citizens/voters…these cronies didn’t go after PIP corruption (as they said they would and should have done – they just used that excuse to short-change the Florida citizen); they passed “PIP Reform” so that their insurance buddies can continue to make record profits.
    Instead of passing true PIP reform by going after the real crooks (as they promised), they defrauded the Florida citizens by once again stealing their money in the biggest fraud of all – throw the crooks out!!!!!

Florida political tweeters
Video: Politics stories
Categories
Archives