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Hospitals and the Coalition to Protect Florida's Drivers Applaud Lawmakers for Reviving No-Fault Insurance

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Oct. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Florida drivers won a major victory today when the Legislature voted to reinstate the state's 36-year-old no-fault auto insurance law. The reformed law, which protects both people and property and fights fraud, passed both chambers with overwhelming support. The new changes in the no-fault system go into effect January 1, 2008.

The Coalition particularly applauded Senator Bill Posey and Representative Ellyn Bogdanoff for crafting a compromise that extends and reforms the no- fault system, and then working tenaciously to negotiate consensus among their colleagues. The group also commended Governor Charlie Crist, House Speaker Marco Rubio, and Senate President Ken Pruitt for their leadership in including no-fault in this week's special session.

"Despite their differences, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle recognize that no-fault insurance, with $10,000 in mandatory personal injury protection, is an important consumer protection and safety net for Florida's drivers," said Wayne NeSmith, president of the Florida Hospital Association and a Coalition leader. "With more than 700 auto accidents occurring each day in Florida, resulting in 376 injured persons, we are grateful that the Legislature came through for all Floridians today."

Today's vote by the Legislature means that Florida will avoid a surge in uninsured drivers; a spike in both health and auto insurance costs; a crisis in the auto insurance industry; and a new wave of costly and time-consuming lawsuits, as fault would have had to be determined in every accident. The law's extension also means that hospitals and trauma centers will avoid a serious financial impact that could total as much as $140 million for treating uninsured auto crash victims.

"Lawmakers did the right thing today by reenacting PIP," said Tony Carvalho, president of the Safety Net Hospital Alliance, also a Coalition member. "When you consider that one in four Floridians under age 65 has no health insurance and that, for many, PIP is their only source of medical coverage, it is clear how critical PIP is for both patients and the hospitals and trauma centers that treat them."

Dan Tarantin, CEO of Direct General Insurance Company, a leading auto insurer and another Coalition member, also praised lawmakers for their work. "Lawmakers this week acknowledged that mandatory medical coverage and property damage is critical for all Floridians. Without PIP, Floridians would be driving on more dangerous roads and paying higher auto premiums for less coverage."

Until January 1, Florida drivers could be sued for even minor car accidents if one of the drivers involved does not have PIP. No-fault tort exemptions still will be in effect if both drivers involved in an accident have PIP. Though PIP is not mandatory until January, drivers still can purchase the coverage. Property Damage coverage continues to be mandatory and enforced.

The Coalition to Protect Florida's Drivers is a group of nearly 40 organizations led by the Florida Hospital Association and the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida. It includes Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, auto insurers, emergency care physicians, first responders, safety officials, and other healthcare professionals.

SOURCE Florida Hospital Association; Safety Net Hospital Allianceof
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