Sunday, April 17, 2011

FL Docs Monitor Pending Legislation

At the state and federal level, legislation is pending that, if passed, could have a significant impact on Florida providers. 

In Tallahassee Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R- Fort Lauderdale has introduced a bill to fight staged automobile accidents and excessive PIP claims.  Consumer advocates and the insurance industry support the bill.  See Strange Bedfellows: Insurance Industry Unites with Consumer.  The FMA and the Florida Chiropractors Association have voiced their opposition to the pending legislation. The concern is that the proposed new law would make it easy for insurers to delay payments and deny PIP claims to legitimate providers.  In other words, "this new law would cast too large a net thus ensnaring honest docs already squeezed by declining healthcare reimbursements," stated a leading physician advocate. Adds Glen Ged, Ellis, Ged & Bodden "All legitimate parties want to see fraud out of the system -- the stated aim of these bills. However, many provisions would only open the door to greater insurance company profits at the expense of providers."  An editorial in the Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, insists that the proposed new law is not good news for consumers either.  See PIP Legislation Bad News for Docs and Citizens.  However according to a recent article in the Daily Business Review, the Insurance Information Institute estimates Floridians have paid an extra $1 Billion in auto insurance premiums due to bogus claims. 

Meanwhile, in D.C. the Help Efficient Accessible Low-cost Timely Healthcare Act of 2011 would cap contingent attorney's fees in medical malpractice cases.  Sponsored by US Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Georgia, the bill also includes a cap of $250,000 for non-economic damages.  The goal of this legislation is "To improve patient access to health care services and provide improved medical care by reducing the excessive burden the liability system places on the health care delivery system" according to GovTrack.us.  The CBO estimates savings of $35 per American over five years.  Opponents of the legislation assert that the caps, while appearing consumer-friendly, are actually bad for consumers.  In an article published recently in the Daily Business Review, Brian Wolfman, a law professor at Georgetown University stated that the bill "...fixes non-economic damages at $250,000 forever, regardless of the impact of inflation" and that this illustrates that the cap "...is not a genuine attempt to gauge the impact on real people's lives..." Predictably Democrats are against this legislation.  Ironically they cite the sanctity of free markets and states' rights (two subjects typically championed by Republicans) as reasons to oppose the bill.

Stay tuned.

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