Last week, commissioners in Hillsborough County unanimously approved an ordinance that purportedly addresses fraud associated with the staged car crashes that have plagued the area. As I have previously discussed here, Hillsborough County has become a national leader in insurance fraud because criminals are taking advantage of Florida’s Personal Injury Protection insurance. This has caused a steep rise in PIP premiums and makes it more difficult for people to afford the coverage.
Tampa Bay Online reported the new ordinance will address loopholes that allow medical clinics to avoid licensing regulations. Before this new law was passed, clinics could see patients as long as a physician signed the business application even if the physician did not see patients at the clinic. Many of these clinics billed insurance companies for procedures that were never performed, as I explained in this blog.
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Under the new ordinance, each medical and rehabilitation clinic will have to have a doctor on staff who actively practices at the location and who has his or her name on both the facility’s bank accounts and liability insurance. Furthermore, Hillsborough County also reserves the right to inspect clinics when needed.
The hope is that physicians will not be willing to risk their license to participate in the fraudulent conduct and as a result the fraud will not occur. While, this step might reduce PIP fraud, it really dances around the problem. As long as PIP is available there will be unscrupulous physicians that want to take advantage of the system. As a Tampa car accident attorney, I have seen clinics with physicians practicing at the clinic that appear from the outside looking in to be doing so. I guess we will just have to wait and see if the ordinance helps.