A bill that would force all accident victims to go to emergency rooms instead of their family doctor, even for minor injuries, cleared a House subcommittee today, reports the Associated Press.
The bill (HB 119) was approved 10-5 by the Florida House Banking and Insurance Subcommittee. It aims to cut down the fraud that is rampant in the state’s personal injury protection, or PIP, coverage.
Gov. Rick Scott later came out forcefully for the measure, saying he had no problem with its emergency room mandate.
PIP fraud “is costing us a significant amount of money every year,” the governor said. Scott helped start Columbia Hospital Corporation, which merged with another company to become the world’s largest health care company.
Requiring crash victims to be treated in emergency rooms is “one approach … You know there’s other approaches to license providers and all sorts of things,” he said. “(But) I think that bill is a good bill and I’m very supportive of it.”
The proposed law requires those hurt in a wreck to go to a hospital emergency room or hospital-owned walk-in clinic within 72 hours for PIP coverage to kick in.
The bill’s critics warned that it would make people suffer long waits in understaffed, overcrowded emergency rooms, and would prevent them from seeing doctors or other health care providers who already know their health condition.
But Rep. Jim Boyd, the Bradenton Republican sponsoring the bill, explained that crash victims should first be treated in hospitals rather than pain clinics, for instance.
As to the 72-hour limit, he said people injured in a crash shouldn’t be allowed to “just wander in (for treatment) at some point in the future.” He was, however, willing to lengthen that treatment limit to somewhere between 72 hours and 14 days.
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