South Florida Hospital News
Sunday June 13, 2021
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June 2021 - Volume 17 - Issue 12
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How Repealing PIP Can Impact Healthcare Providers

Florida’s personal-injury protection (PIP) auto insurance system, also known as "no-fault," would end in 2022 under proposals in both the state House (House Bill 719) and Senate (Senate Bill 54). Both bills will repeal PIP and replace it with Mandatory Bodily Injury Insurance (MBI).

The current no-fault system was intended to make insurance claims less adversarial than lawsuits. Florida motorists are required to carry personal-injury protection coverage which includes $10,000 in medical benefits.
 
Under the proposed law, all drivers would be required to carry a minimum of $25,000 in coverage for the death or injury of one person and $50,000 for the injury or death of two or more people.
 
PIP coverage currently pays up to $10,000 of the medical expenses of a patient when he or she suffers any injuries in a car accident—no matter who is at fault, according to Marius J. Ged, one of the partners with Boca Raton, FL-based Ged Lawyers, LLP.
 
“There’s a reason for that,” he says. “The legislature wants swift payments of medical bills so people don’t have to sue each other to get their medical bills paid.”
 
According to Ged, MBI is based on the premise that every person who causes a motor vehicle crash will have financial responsibility for the damages caused. Those who oppose MBI believe it does not account for Florida’s unique position in the marketplace. Over 100 million tourists visit the state annually, many driving the highways of the state. Many are either uninsured, or do not carry insurance that matches Florida coverage, rejecting insurance products offered by the rental car companies. The rental car companies are immune from liability under current law.
 
PIP may also provide coverage of lost wages in certain circumstances. The intent of this law was to reduce auto accident fraud, lower the cost of auto insurance premiums, and reduce litigation costs. Under the Florida No-Fault Law, they have 30 days to pay the provider.
 
In 2018, a similar bill was passed through only one Senate committee before the session was adjourned. Last year, another bill passed through three House panels but died on the floor.
 
“They are trying to repeal this again with MBI and replace it with $25,000 of bodily injury per person on the road and $60,000 in the aggregate. But they want to remove PIP at the same time. This will affect all emergency room doctors, hospitals and all of the healthcare providers,” says Ged.
 
By repealing PIP, healthcare providers could suffer. According to Ged, this is what could happen without PIP:
• Coverage only to insureds
• Recovery determined by liability; increase litigation
• Every accident will be a lawsuit
• Longer period of time to be paid; no quick and efficient payment cycles of PIP
• Payment less than PIP payments
• Increase in premiums for minimal coverage
• Increase in uninsured patients; health insurance is not auto insurance
• More financial risk with the largest impact on smaller businesses
• Loss of revenue generated to the State from PIP
• The difference will be found elsewhere— either providing less or increasing taxes
 
The biggest consequence is that healthcare providers and their treating physicians may not be paid, notes Ged.
 
“Getting rid of PIP simply means no medical payments for injured patients. Now patients will have to hire attorneys to sue the other party if they are involved in an accident to get your medical bills paid. This will also increase your car insurance. premiums.”
 
The taxpayers will ultimately pay for these unpaid medical bills, stresses Ged.
 
“The hospitals in our area that are public entities have to treat patients,” he says. “They can’t turn anyone away. So they will absorb those costs. Under the current system, they get paid and they know what they will get paid. They don’t have to chase people around for payment.”
 
If passed, here’s a scenario of what could happen, explains Ged.
1. Car accident occurs and injuries sustained
2. Medical treatment needed and medpay coverage is not required (Recovery of medical expenses depends on liability)
3. Medical providers will not be paid.
4. For treatment to continue, providers will use letters of protection (LOP).
5. At-fault parties will be precluded from recovery.
6 Settlement (MBI limits will not be able to cover the total LOP amount).
7. Provider will either need to take a loss or seek other means.
 
“All benefits under MBI flow to the insurers at the detriment of insureds and all Floridians,” says Ged.
 
Ged points to Colorado as a state that repealed their own PIP law and replaced it with MBI. The state’s auto insurance premiums are now rising fast. As a result:
• The volume of auto insurance related litigation is growing and so is the size of awards.
• Colorado is now third in the nation for rising car insurance premiums.
• Colorado is in the top 10/11 overall for cost of auto insurance.
• The Florida Justice Association, comprised of trial lawyers, no longer even mentions Colorado as an example when advocating for MBI.
 
“It’s been a disaster,” says Ged. “This is a good example of a state where it did not work. If you don’t want to see this signed into law, we ask medical professionals to contact their local representative and the governor,” says Ged. “Ask them not to pass this legislation.”

For more information, visit www.gedlawyers.com.

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