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Scott calls for reforms to curb car insurance fraud

Gov. Rick Scott and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater called for major reforms Tuesday to reduce car insurance fraud in Florida. The two statewide officials appeared with nearly a dozen uniformed police officers at a Capitol press conference.

With car insurance premiums skyrocketing and fraud multiplying even as the number of accidents has declined, Scott said reform of the personal injury protection (PIP) program is needed in four areas: fraud prevention, limiting lawsuits, provider reform and accountability. The governor held PIP roundtables in five cities, including Tampa, the statewide leader in fraud from staged car crashes, exaggerated personal injuries and excessive visits to doctors, chiropractors and massage therapists. 

"The charges per claim are above the national average. Procedures per claim are above the national average," Scott said. "There's clearly abuse by some providers."

Fixing PIP is easier said than done, because it will require lawmakers to get tough with powerful interest groups including doctors, hospitals, lawyers, chiropractors and medical providers. "Everybody's got their piece of the pie and they don't want to give it up," said Rep. Bryan Nelson, R-Apopka, who chairs the House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee. "It's not going to be an easy bill."

The subcommittee will workshop its draft reform bill Wednesday. Nelson says the House wants to change the law so that only doctors, dentists or chiropractors can prescribe medical care from car crashes and to limit treatments. He said the failure of a PIP working group to reach any consensus on a solution was a sign of the challenge that lies ahead. 

-- Steve Bousquet