Appeals Court hears arguments in Florida PIP insurance injunction

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The First District Court of Appeals heard oral arguments today on the temporary injunction placed on a new Florida personal injury protection (PIP) law that had gone into effect January 1, 2013. The injunction puts an end (for now) to some controversial changes advocated by Gov. Rick Scott.

In March, Circuit Judge Terry P. Lewis granted an injunction against the PIP law, halting the part of the law requiring the determination of an emergency medical condition as prerequisite for payment of benefits. The law also prohibited insurers from paying for services provided by acupuncturists, chiropractors and massage therapists.

A group of alternative medical professionals sued the state due to proposed changes, which prevent them from receiving PIP payments.

Donovan Brown, state government relations counsel for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) responded to the Appeals Court hearing:

“In order to address fraud and abuse within Florida’s no-fault auto insurance system and provide Floridians relief from being the No. 1 state in the nation for questionable auto claims, it is imperative that consumers receive the benefit of the PIP reforms becoming fully effective.”  

The temporary injunction was based on a ruling by Lewis finding that the changes in PIP law made it no longer a “reasonable alternative” to a tort system. The directive also briefly blocks further enactment of a number of limits on benefits and excludes some medical professionals from the list of approved healthcare providers.

“From the beginning, PCI and its member companies urged caution and patience with allowing the PIP reforms adequate time to work and the ability to be fully implemented,” Donovan added. “The injunction which was the subject of today’s hearing has held up these reforms and delayed their ability to do what was intended to curb fraud and stop the $1 billion fraud tax on Florida consumers. We hope for a quick resolution that can put the reforms back on track.”

PCI is an association of more than 1,000 member insurance companies, representing a broad cross-section of insurers who write over $190 billion in annual premiums. PCI members total 40 percent of the nation’s property casualty insurance and 46 percent of the entire U.S. automobile insurance market.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.