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Scott pushing for lawmakers to pass House PIP bill

3/8/2012

WSVN-TV

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Gov. Rick Scott wants Florida lawmakers to fix Florida's mandatory and expensive no-fault auto insurance program before they adjourn Friday.

Considering that any kind of meaningful reform on the issue has eluded legislators for more than a decade, the governor's 11th-hour call for a decision on one of his top priorities for the session may be too little, too late. One hang-up seems to be over the Senate's insistence that insurers commit to a 25 percent reduction in rates on the personal insurance protection. The Senate passed its PIP bill Wednesday and returned it to the House.

With time running out, the PIP bill (HB 119) sat idle Thursday and the governor went to the bully pulpit. He prefers the House proposal and doesn't like the Senate provision that would drop rates.

"Citizens are tired of this," said Scott, flanked by Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty. "They think they're being taken advantage of by this. They expect us to do the right thing."

Shortly after the governor's news conference, the state's insurance consumer advocate released figures that showed PIP costs have escalated by $1.4 billion since 2008 despite mostly stable medical costs and few accidents during that period.

"If we can fix PIP that would be great," Scott said. "If you can't, the citizens would want us to get rid of it."

Scott avoided talk about a special session, but there's little question that he'd bring legislators back to resolve one of his top priorities for the session.

PIP has a long history in Florida, where lawmakers adopted a no-fault automobile plan that took effect Jan. 1, 1972. It was intended to provide benefits in a timely manner for a person injured in an automobile accident regardless of who was at fault. That plan provided payment for medical, wage loss and death benefits, but did not limit the insured's right to sue for non-economic losses.

"I'm hopeful," Scott said. "We can have a positive impact on all the citizens of the state."