Florida judges are currently considering lifting an injunction placed against the 2012 Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Act, in the latest round of a fight for the right of patients to receive insured massage therapy and acupuncture.
The act prohibits the state’s massage therapists and acupuncturists from billing PIP insurance, an action those health care providers had been allowed to engage in before the bill was signed into law.
On Sept. 17, oral arguments were made for and against the injunction. (The oral arguments may be viewed here: www.massagemag.com/oralpip.)
According to a Sept. 25 report by Insurance Journal, State Solicitor General Allen Winsor argued that Florida Second Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis’ ruling “should be squashed given the fact that Lewis provided no specific instructions to regulators or insurers of how to comply with the injunction … [m]ore to the point, Winsor said, the current injunction did not involve an accident victim or insurers that provided a basis for showing how the PIP reforms did or did not bar them from accessing the court.
“Florida PIP Legal Defense Fund attorney Adam Levine, representing medical providers, argued that they had standing to bring the case since without the involvement of medical providers, accident victims have no basis to go forward with a case,” the report noted.
Justice Stephanie Ray said insurance companies are being negatively affected by the injunction even though they aren’t a party to the case.
In an open letter to the massage profession, Attorneys Levine and Luke Lirot, who are working on behalf of United Practitioners Organization Inc., wrote: “Frustratingly, the appellate panel, either because they were simply incapable of grasping this basic argument, or, worse, because of political pressures inherent in this case, seemed openly hostile to the ‘standing’ issue we urged. It is not clear when the First District Court of Appeal will rule or what that ruling will issue, but this is really a minor consideration. This is only a preliminary battle that, candidly, doers not even establish the ‘law of the case.’ We are working on efforts to respond to the appellate ruling whether it affirms or dissolves the temporary injunction.”
Florida has seen a battle over PIP since early 2012:
• May 4, 2012: Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into a law a bill to prohibit the state’s massage therapists and acupuncturists from billing PIP insurance. The bill also capped chiropractic care at $2,500 and stipulated the patient receive a referral to chiropractic care by a primary care physician.
• November 23, 2012: Attorneys Luke Lirot and Adam Levine filed a lawsuit to prevent the state of Florida from enforcing the provisions of the 2012 PIP Act.
• March 15, 2013: A judge awarded a temporary injunction against the law that prohibits massage therapists from billing insurance for PIP claims. The temporary injunction meant massage therapists could return to PIP billing
• Sept. 17, 2013: Lirot and Levine presented an oral argument in the First District Court of Appeal, in Tallahassee, Florida. Florida State Massage Therapy Association (FSMTA) President Leiah Carr “authorized the filing of an Amicus Brief on behalf of the Florida State Massage Therapy Association, which is a document noted as meaning a ‘Friend of the Court,’ showing support for the case and offer[ing] information that bears on the case,” noted a statement on the FSMTA’s website. “Several other organizations followed, such as the Florida Acupuncture Association, The Florida State Oriental Medical Association, The Florida Chiropractic Association of American and the Florida Justice Association.
The Florida PIP Defense Fund is accepting contributions to pay for the fight against the changes to PIP.