Florida has been cracking down on clinics that exploit the state’s no-fault auto insurance system with fake injury claims. These clinics are milking insurers and their customers for all they’re worth – with bogus billing right up to the $10,000 coverage maximum per claim.
The reforms intended to close down these clinics in favor of honest operations, leaving way for legitimate treatment in the case of legitimate injuries and preventing scammers from raising everyone’s premiums.
While the state passed a good moderate anti-fraud bill last year, it was a local jurisdiction — Hillsborough County — that first took action against shady clinics by setting tough licensing standards and requiring clinics to provide the county with a list of physicians they employ.
The county had become a hub of staged auto crashes. The commissioners were heralded for taking a courageous stand after the state failed to do so.
So it came as a surprise recently when a last-minute exemption to the new ordinance was awarded to the well-known chiro chain of 40 clinics known around the state as 1-800-Ask-Gary. Insurers say the Gary clinics maximize PIP payouts by ordering needless tests and treating most patients until their $10,000 benefit limit runs out.
The exemption came to light recently when a candidate running for county commissioner took her opponent to task for drafting the exemption. Commissioners say the exemption was needed to pass the ordinance, but others are doubtful.
In any event, if fraud doesn’t fall measurably, the focus likely will then be directed to the 1-800-Ask-Gary clinics, and then perhaps the county will seek to lift the exemption.
About the author: Jennifer Tchinnosian is communications specialist for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.