The Broward-based 1-800-411-PAIN Referral Service and other companies that solicit clients who have been in car accidents got a legislative kick in the knees Friday, but they are still standing.
A bill designed to cut down on personal injury protection (PIP) insurance fraud passed the state Senate with the enthusiastic backing of Gov. Rick Scott. Yet how much the bill will actually change the booming business of car accident treatments remains unclear.
House Bill 119 does not outlaw accident clinics. Accident victims can still call 1-800-411-PAIN and go directly to one of the many chiropractic clinics in the company's network. However, the clinic can only charge a patient's PIP insurance $2,500 unless a doctor, dentist, nurse practitioner, or physician's assistant determines that the patient has an "emergency
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medical condition." If the condition is an "emergency," more PIP costs can be billed.
All Florida drivers are required to carry $10,000 in PIP insurance, which covers most of their medical bills and lost wages if they are in an accident. Unscrupulous chiropractors and physicians throughout the state have become adept at burning through that entire $10,000 with multiple clinic visits and questionable treatments. 411-PAIN is currently under investigation by the Florida Attorney General's Office for "deceptive and misleading advertising" and for allegedly allowing doctors and lawyers to use up all $10,000 of a patient's PIP insurance.
One might assume this new bill would stop the chiropractors in the 411-PAIN network from running up the bills. But some of the clinics, such as the Broward Rehab Center on West Oakland Park Boulevard, have a physician on staff. What's to stop that doctor from deciding all the patients have a medical emergency and need $10,000 worth of treatment?
The Pulp called one of the bill's biggest advocates, Sen. Joe Negron (R-Stuart), and the state Department of Financial Services, for comment. We'll update when they respond.