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House PIP proposal includes concessions, but still faces opposition

Despite some last-minute changes to made the House’s version of no-fault auto insurance reform more palatable, the measure was still criticized by Democrats, attorneys, consumer groups and chiropractors.

Rep. Jim Boyd, the sponsor, introduced an amendment that removes a provision allowing insurance companies to question doctors under oath, granting the medical community a concession it had lobbied for.

A second amendment changed one of the core components of Boyd’s measure: the requirement that people injured in auto accidents be treated in emergency rooms within 72 hours of an accident. With the change, policy holders can now go to medical providers of their choice for initial treatment, as long as it doesn’t cost more than $1,500. However, the 72-hour window remains in place.

“We heard loud and clear from you that lots of folks want to be able to go to their own doctor,” Boyd, R-Bradenton, said.

HB 119 was approved by the Economic Affairs Committee on a party-line vote, the same as the other times it was heard in committee. It’s now ready for debate on the floor.

The Senate Budget Committee is expected to debate its version of personal injury protection, or PIP, reform next week before sending it to the floor for a vote. That proposal, SB 1860, is much different than the House’s, focusing on halting fraud instead of making widespread changes to the PIP system.

Legislative leaders in both chambers say they are confident a compromise can be reached this year, even if it means a special session.