In Florida, all drivers must purchase personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. Until now, motorists injured in an accident could receive massage therapy or acupuncture, along with other medical care. But with the passing of Senate Bill 1860, those days are probably over.

The bill is now awaiting the signature of Gov. Rick Scott.

The bill was promoted as a way of addressing fraud related to PIP claims, according to an article in the Palm Beach Post newspaper, which also reported that PIP-related fraud had reached $1 billion.

The bill also caps chiropractic care at $2,500 and stipulates that the patient receive a referral to chiropractic care by a primary care physician.

The Florida State Massage Therapy Association had issued calls to action to the state’s massage therapists over the past several weeks, encouraging therapists to contact their elected officials to ask them to vote no on the bill.

“Floridians are in for a rude awakening,” Florida Consumer Action Network spokesman Bill Newton said in an article published by Insurance Journal. “Instead of measures aimed at preventing true fraud, we’re left with a bill that pads the pockets of big insurance companies.”

Opponents of the bill indicated that it was the brainchild of insurance companies, and is intended to increase profits for those companies.

Insurance Journal also reported, “The Senate sought a guaranteed 25 percent rate reduction on PIP, but settled for a 10 percent reduction that’s not guaranteed. If insurers who offer PIP do not provide their customers a minimum 10 percent rate reduction, they must explain in detail why not.”

Massage therapy and insurance-billing expert Vivian Mahoney, who teaches insurance-billing skills to massage therapists, said she has contacted an attorney regarding this matter and is surveying the massage profession to determine if therapists are willing to donate to a legal fund.

Massage therapists may take the survey here.

—Karen Menehan, MASSAGE Magazine editor in chief