PIP Changes and it’s affect on Massage Therapists

Bowing to intense lobbying pressure from Governor Rick Scott flanked by CFO Jeff Atwater, state lawmakers gave their final approval to a package of PIP/No-fault auto insurance reforms shortly before their final adjournment, just before midnight on Friday.  The last-minute deal struck between Scott, Atwater and leadership in the House and Senate was drafted earlier in the afternoon behind closed doors, later unveiled, and quickly rushed through both chambers with a heavy dose of arm twisting. The “compromise measure” makes major changes to the role all providers will have in treating accident victims, while completely denying massage therapy and acupuncture services.   The newly coined “Florida Motor Vehicle Medical Care Coverage Law” is a blow to consumer rights to freedom of choice and will leave thousands unemployed and many more suffering with chronic pain and little remedy.  Despite rigorous lobbying effort by professional and trade associations, asking legislators to focus on true anti-fraud provisions, a number of pro-insurance industry proposals were adopted which further enhance the industry’s ability to reduce, delay and deny paying legitimate provider claims, while likewise reining in the fees attorneys can recover in complex cases. “This is a triumphant moment,” boasted Scott in a statement issued shortly after the final bill passed the Senate on a razor-thin vote of 21-19. The Governor went on to praise legislative leaders, claiming that the measure would deliver on his promise to combat fraud while “saving Floridians money that otherwise would have found its way into the pockets of fraudsters, unethical providers and trial lawyers.” Shortly before the Senate’s action, the House agreed to the package by a wider margin of 80-34, though largely along Party lines.  Effective on policies renewed or issued after July 1, 2012, Florida drivers will still be required to purchase at least $10,000 in PIP coverage, however, most injured parties will unknowingly have access to only $2,500 in benefits.  The full $10,000 benefit becomes available only to accident victims who are diagnosed with an “emergency medical condition,” a determination that cannot be made by DC’s. In those situations, follow-up care may be provided by a DC upon referral, provided the care is consistent with the original diagnosis.   Additionally, a new tiered benefit of up to $2,500 is alternately available for patients diagnosed with a non-emergency medical condition.  This diagnosis/treatment benefit is available to all specified providers, DC’s included, with patients given direct access to their choice of providers.  In both scenarios, patients must present themselves for care within 14 days of the accident or there is no PIP coverage. Below you will find a complete listing of how your individual senator voted on the PIP issue.  “Friends & Foes” analysis of the 21-19 vote.

FRIENDS –The 19 Senators voting in opposition to the motion (Standing up for Consumer Rights): Bennett, Braynon, Bullard, Dean, Diaz de la Portilla, Dockery, Fasano, Garcia, Gibson, Jones, Joyner, Margolis, Rich, Ring, Sachs, Siplin, Smith, Sobel, Storms FOES –The 21 Senators voting in support of the motion to concur with the House (Standing up for Insurance Industry Profits): Alexander, Altman, Benacquisto, Bogdanoff, Detert, Evers, Flores, Gaetz, Gardiner, Haridopolos, Hays, Latvala, Lynn, Montford, Negron, Norman, Oelrich, Richter, Simmons, Thrasher, Wise The full Bill and history of its passage through the legislative process can be found via the following link: http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=47180&SessionId=70 I know due to the passing of this bill that many massage therapists may become displaced by the loss of work available when working with a DC. As a result every massage therapist needs to be aware of two dates that will take affect by this legislation. July 1st, 2012 and Dec 31st, 2012. The first July 1st, 2012 the law will take effect and new policy owners will not have coverage for massage therapy as defined in CH 480. Policies that have been written prior to this legislature will expire as they do they will lose these benefits all policies will lose their benefits as of Dec 31st, 2012. The bill was not written denying a “Massage Therapist” it denies our scope of Practice meaning that any practitioner applying E-stim, hydrotherapy, Manual Manipulation of soft tissue to a patient will not be paid. DC’s can no longer be the first patient contact to treat a patient they must be referred by a MD in an emergency room and will only get $2,500 dollars total in treatment costs.  This must happen within 14 days of the accident otherwise nothing will be paid by the auto insurance company.

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