Letter of the week, Jan. 6


Published: Sunday, January 6, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 6, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.

On Jan. 1, Florida's new Personal Injury Protection (PIP) went into effect. This largely happened as a result of insurance industry pressures despite misgivings by the governor, the state's chief financial officer, hospitals and providers.

The result is a system which takes a step toward over-regulation and obstruction of access to care.

Hospitals secured a temporary hold on half the mandatory $10,000, while blocking timely access to less expensive and often more appropriate outpatient care. This amounts to delayed or hindered access to treatment.

Another problem is tying fees for often complex and traumatic

injuries to woefully inadequate Medicare rates. To make matters even more complicated, it promotes a system of "preferred providers," which undoubtedly are willing to contract for even less.

In another cave-in to special interests, accident victims cannot access all outpatient providers without referral from a select group of specialties. This further rewards expensive hospital-based services, limits competition, and will likely increase costs as special interests monopolize accident victim care.

Lawmakers also failed to consider psychological needs of accident victims. Most psychological services are delivered in private outpatient settings. A child or spouse involved in an accident in which a parent, sibling or spouse was killed, the amputee dealing with psychological trauma, and the head injured individual requiring neuropsychological evaluation all previously had unrestricted access to a psychologist under the old plan.

The restrictions, delays, and cost-cutting of the new PIP legislation ultimately undermine successful outcomes and shift burdens on other systems of care such as health insurance, disability and vocational rehabilitation systems. The Legislature should re-examine the changes made and restore prior benefits and access.

Ernest J. Bordini,

Gainesville

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