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Prospects for PIP repeal dive as Senate panel disdains the legislation

PIP repeal is not officially dead, but it wasn’t looking at all well Wednesday after a key Senate committee adjourned its last meeting of Session without taking up the matter.

“It is referenced to this committee, but was not on this agenda. In theory, it makes the prospects of that policy change happening obviously very hard between now and Session ending,” said Miami Republican Anitere Flores, chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services.

“But anything is possible,” she said.

Earlier, Flores voted in the Banking and Insurance Committee in favor of the Senate version of legislation to end Florida’s no-fault insurance system, which requires motorists to buy personal injury protection coverage and takes accident claims out of the court system. She also chairs that panel.

But she saw diminishing prospects for an agreement with the House over whether to require medical payments coverage. The Senate is holding out for a $5,000 per year “med pay” mandate. The House is resisting.

“The House bill is so different,” Flores said. “In my opinion, the House product would not be good for Floridians. There has been some concern with some of the comments made by the House on their willingness to compromise.”

She fears hospitals would be harmed without a guarantee they’d be paid for their services — particularly in light of reductions to state payments to hospitals during the past few years. Critics of the med pay mandate argue that most people are already covered by medical insurance.

“But not everybody does,” Flores said. “That’s the challenge. Those who don’t, this is their first line of defense. Those are the ones oftentimes we leave behind.”

What will it take to move the legislation in the Senate?

“We’ll just have to see how things come together over the next two weeks. We’ve got a lot of things that still need to be done.”

The subcommittee was the second of three references for the legislation — it also was earmarked for a hearing before the full Appropriations Committee.

The House bill (HB 19) by Vero Beach Republican Erin Grall, which cleared the House on a vote of 88-19 on Jan. 12, would require $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily injury (BI) liability coverage, plus $10,000 for property damage liability, beginning next year.

Senate language (SB 150) by Brandon Republican Tom Lee would require $20,000 per person and $40,000 per occurrence in bodily injury coverage and mandatory medical payments coverage of $5,000. Those coverage levels ratchet up to $30,000 per person and $60,000 per incident after three years.

Written By

Michael Moline is a former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal and managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal. Previously, he reported on politics and the courts in Tallahassee for United Press International. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as editor of the Florida Flambeau. His family’s roots in Jackson County date back many generations.

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