A Florida County To Address Auto Insurance Fraud
Monday’s Post 10/31/11 – A Florida county has submitted its own ordinance to discuss the outlandish number of scams perpetrated by fraudulent medical clinics. Hillsborough County State lawmakers’ have promised to discuss the insurance fraud issue and revise the state’s automobile no-fault laws. The debate is over PIP (Personal Injury Protection) and the fraud within medical centers in Hillsborough Country. Through an unanimous vote, the Hillsborough Country Board of Commissioners passed sets of revised decrees that mandate medical clinics which primarily treat victims of a car accidents and earn most of their income through auto PIP insurance claims. These clinics must acquire a new county license. Kevin Beckner, and County Commissioner, said that the new ordinance is essential to cut fraud which cost residents up to $350 each in higher auto insurance premiums. According to a National Insurance Crime Bureau report, residents of Hillsborough County pay nearly $16 million higher in car insurance premiums because of medical clinic fraud. As a result, Hillsborough’s local economy has been greatly affected. Florida ranks number one in fake accidents, according to the NICB (National Insurance Crime Bureau). From 2008 to 2009, the number of such “staged” accidents in Florida has increased by nearly 170%. The number of medical and pain clinics that chiefly treat Personal Injury Protection (PIP) patients has increased dramatically. There are 160 such clinics in Hillsborough Country alone; as compared to over 70 in Pinellas Country, 22 in Pasco County, 20 in Manatee County and 17 in Polk County.
Commissioner Beckner who proposed the law says that the new ordinance aims to shut down fraudulent clinics and simultaneously protect the medical clinics which are performing legitimate medical care. Technically, a PIP medical provider is a person, clinic, or other business whose PIP clients account 90% of its gross income or bills insurers more than $200,000 in PIP claims annually. Due to the new ordinance, these clinics are required to be open for business at least three times weekly from 9:00AM to 5:00PM and can accommodate walk-in patients or provide patients with appointment options for services, therapy and other treatment. A licensed physician must be physically present at least three days weekly for four hours a day. Each physician is restricted to run more than five PIP medical provider clinics. A license application costs $500 which is non-refundable and an annual payment of $1500.
Violators of the new ordinance are to be fined $500 and a maximum of 60 days imprisonment. In the same sense, a physician whose license has been cancelled will not be permitted to operate another clinic for five years. Critics exclaimed that the new law is overreaching since it dictates a physician’s working hours and inhibited limits on their income sources.
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