Florida Insurance Bill Discontinues Coverage of Massage Therapy

Florida House Bill 119, into which Senate Bill 1860 was merged, would reform Motor Vehicle Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance in Florida. The PIP reform bill eliminates coverage for massage therapy and acupuncture. The bill passed both houses of the Florida legislature and is expected to be signed into law by Governor Rick Scott. Scott pledged to make PIP reform his primary focus of the legislative session.

Florida’s personal injury protection (PIP) law was adopted in 1972; its intent was to make sure anyone injured in an auto accident would quickly get money to treat their injuries. The legislation provided that a driver’s insurance company pay up to $10,000 to cover medical bills and lost wages after an accident, no matter who is at fault.

Reform has been sought to reduce the amount of fraud, which has been identified as the primary culprit for rising costs. Florida ranks first nationally in staged accidents.

The bill requires an accident victim to obtain treatment within 14 days in an ambulance or hospital, or from a physician, osteopathic physician, chiropractic physician, or dentist. The full $10,000 PIP medical benefit is available only if a physician, osteopathic physician, dentist, or a supervised physician’s assistant or advanced registered nurse practitioner determines that the insured has an “emergency medical condition.” Otherwise, the PIP medical benefit is limited to $2,500. Follow-up services and care requires a referral from a physician, osteopath, chiropractor or dentist. Massage therapy and acupuncture were eliminated from eligibility for PIP benefits.

Upon the governor’s signature, beginning January 1, 2013, any massage therapist who previously billed under the PIP program will no longer be able to.

The Florida State Massage Therapy Association (FSMTA) had representation at the capitol and deserves credit for their efforts on this bill; unfortunately with issues as broad as motor vehicle insurance, massage therapy sometimes gets “outgunned.” Unfairly, massage therapy likely was singled out as a symbolic reduction.

ABMP will keep its members posted on any occurrences related to this issue.