Hillsborough County, Florida (Tampa area), just passed an ordinance on September 21st by a unanimous vote. The ordinance targets pain clinics that focus on treating primarily PIP (personal injury protection) patients. In addition to targeting pain clinics, the ordinance was also intended to help stop Florida automobile insurance fraud procured through staged accidents and the like.
This is the first county in Florida to take insurance fraud matters into their own hands; but it’s no surprise why. Hillsborough County Commissioner, Kevin Beckner rattled off some pretty staggering statistics. Apparently, Hillsborough County is paying $15.5 million in higher premiums because of insurance fraud. That breaks down to about $350 in higher premiums for each resident in that county. Many residents can no longer afford to pay the rising premiums, and insurance agencies are closing their doors because of their dwindling client-base.
Now that this ordinance is in effect, all clinics that treat or provide therapy to patients who claim to have received their injuries from a Florida car accident will need to be licensed. This license will cost clinics $2,000 up front ($500 application fee and $1,500 annual fee), and $1,500 for subsequent years. There are a number of requirements under this ordinance that physicians and clinics must comply with. The penalty for not complying with the clinic license requirements is up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. In addition, any physician whose license has been revoked will be prevented from running another clinic for 5 years.
Governor Rick Scott estimated that because of the widespread PIP fraud and abuse, every Florida driver is paying a $500 annual penalty, which is an $800 million tax on Florida consumers. There has been a lot of tension revolving around the reformation of PIP laws in the state of Florida. It should be interesting to see if this ordinance creates the desired affect and if the rest of the state follows suit.
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