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Health News Florida

House Adds Limit On ER Charges To 'Bad Faith' Bill

hospital workers in hospital

The House Commerce Committee on Thursday approved a controversial insurance bill after making a change that would limit amounts paid for emergency care provided to auto-accident victims.

The underlying bill (HB 895) is aimed at increasing restrictions on “bad faith” lawsuits, a heavily debated idea that is a priority of insurance and business groups.

But sponsor David Santiago, R-Deltona, proposed an addition Thursday that would place a new limit on amounts charged for providing emergency care in hospitals to people with personal-injury protection, or PIP, auto insurance coverage.

The new limit would be 200 percent of Medicare reimbursement amounts. The move drew objections from lobbyists for the Florida College of Emergency Physicians and the Florida Dental Association, which includes oral surgeons.

“What you’re doing here is artificially placing on the emergency physician a very low reimbursement,” said Toni Large, representing the Florida College of Emergency Physicians. Large said reimbursements now are based on what are known as “usual and customary” charges.

But Santiago pointed to a $10,000 limit on so-called PIP coverage and said he is trying to make sure that emergency-room care doesn’t eat up all of patients’ benefits.

“The concept is to help patients extend and be able to use their eligible benefits on many levels,” Santiago said. After passage by the committee Thursday, the bill is ready to go to the full House.

A Senate bill (SB 1334) that includes bad-faith changes, however, has stalled with about two weeks left in the legislative session. Bad faith lawsuits generally involve allegations that insurers have not properly looked out for the interests of their customers.