PIP fraud targeted Tuesday, bills up Wednesday

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Michael Peltier of the News Service of Florida reports: On the eve of legislative testimony, Gov. Rick Scott and Cabinet members joined forces Tuesday to call on lawmakers to enact significant changes to curb fraud they say is costing motorists nearly $1 billion a year in higher premiums.

Flanked by law enforcement officers in a fourth floor Capitol rotunda packed with industry lobbyists, Scott said staged crashes, bogus clinics and unnecessary medical procedures are raising the cost of personal injury protection insurance to the point where many motorists are choosing to illegally go without the mandatory coverage.

“It’s a $900 million tax on consumers,” Scott told reporters and lobbyists representing physicians, hospitals, plaintiff’s attorneys, providers and insurance companies. “.. Crashes are down but costs are up. That makes absolutely no sense. It’s happening because our current laws are being taken advantage of.”

The House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee is scheduled to be briefed Wednesday on a proposal that would make a number of changes to rules surrounding the $10,000 benefit created in the 1970s to encourage injured motorists to seek medical attention and stay out of court.

A series of workshops, set up by Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and held throughout the state were met with motorists who could no longer afford to purchase the mandatory coverage, with premiums in some locations having nearly doubled in recent years.

“They looked us in the eye and they said ‘It can’t go on much longer,'” Atwater said Tuesday. “They said they would go bare, they would go without.”

A House proposal calls for a number of changes including closing loopholes that now leave many providers that cater to crash patients

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.