Will the Senate Pass Lawsuit Abuse Reform?

The Florida House continued to move key lawsuit abuse reforms during the seventh week of the 2020 Legislative Session and passed its first bad faith bill out of a committee in five years. Unfortunately, time is running out with the legislative session ending on March 13, and several priorities have stalled in the Florida Senate. Your help is needed, but first, here’s the rundown of what happened this week:

Accuracy in Damages

HB 9, also known as “Accuracy in Damages,” continued to advance in the House despite efforts by the trial bar to add a poison pill amendment. The amendment would have allowed the jury to see if the defense had liability insurance, but was defeated handily after testimony from the Florida Chamber and our partners at the Florida Justice Reform Institute. This bill is now poised to be taken up by the House. Despite the common-sense reforms to allow a jury to see the amount that is customarily accepted for a medical procedure, the bill is stuck in the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee, which is not scheduled to meet again.

Lawsuit Lending

Lawsuit Lending, or HB 7041, had its last of three committee hearings in the House. The bill adds consumer protections and creates regulations around the lawsuit lending industry, an industry that has cropped up in the last decade. These high-interest “loans” tend to force plaintiffs not to act in their best interests, and HB 7041 attempts to curb predatory practices by these lenders.

Bad Faith

In a late session surprise, a committee substitute amendment on bad faith reform was filed to an innocuous insurance bill in the House Commerce Committee. HB 895 was further amended to improve the bad faith language in the original amendment, and changes the civil remedy notice process and attempts to fix third-party bad faith. Florida is one of the few states in the country that allows for third-party bad faith, which costs Florida policyholders an additional $106 per insured vehicle in Florida. Opponents of the measure have requested that additional committee references be added to slow down the progress of the measure.

While it’s hard to say what is truly dead until the gavels drop on “Sine Die,” the conclusion of session, it appears that several lawsuit abuse issues are dead. Those issues include addressing municipal litigation, product liability actions, and trial lawyer advertising.

We Need Your Help

Without your action, lawsuit abuse reform efforts might not pass. Several key priorities that are ready for the House floor need hearings in the Senate, and we need YOU to urge senators to pass meaningful legal reform. The Florida Chamber and the rest of the business community submitted letters to Governor DeSantis asking for lawsuit abuse reform.

Click HERE to ask your senator to improve on Florida’s bottom-five legal climate and support the following:
• Accuracy in Damages
• Bad Faith
• Litigation Financing
• Contingency Risk Multiplier

Lawsuit Abuse Reform Slowing

Lawsuit abuse reform slowed down this week as bills started to get jammed up in committee. Three weeks remain in the legislative session, which ends on March 13, and an uphill battle remains to get issues across the finish line. Here is what continued to move during week six.

Accuracy in Damages

The House Commerce Committee moved HB 9, accuracy in damages, by Representative Tom Leek out of committee Thursday, while the Senate bill was temporarily postponed due to lack of votes in its third of four committee stops. It’s unclear if the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee will meet again to consider SB 1668. These bills would allow juries to see the amount usually and customarily paid for a medical service, in addition to the amount billed.

Litigation Financing

Litigation financing was held up in the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee with several amendments as the clock ran out on the committee. SB 1828 by Senator Doug Broxson protects consumers from these payday loans of the lawsuit industry. The Senate bill still has three committee stops remaining, however it’s believed the majority of substantive committees will not meet during weeks seven through nine. The House companion, HB 7041, has one committee hearing remaining which is the House Commerce Committee.

Asbestos Trust Claims

Asbestos Trust Claims continued to move this week with a hearing in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee. SB 1582 brings transparency to the trust claim process and ensures that claims move legitimately and more quickly through the judicial process.

Motor Vehicle Dealers

Motor Vehicle Dealers zipped through its second of three committee hearings in the Senate this week. The bill clarifies that the dangerous instrumentality doctrine does not apply to loaner vehicles while a car is being serviced by a motor vehicle dealer. This exemption already applies to vehicle leases. Both the House and Senate bill have one committee stop remaining.

The Florida Chamber will continue the fight to improve Florida’s bottom-five legal climate. Now is the time to contact your lawmaker and ask for meaningful lawsuit abuse reform this session.

Ensure Your Voice Is Heard

The Florida Chamber is leading Florida’s lawsuit abuse reform efforts, and your support is essential to demonstrating how Florida’s legal climate harms businesses and families. Click here to share which legal climate issues are most important to you.

Act Today to Help Stop AOB Abuse

AOB Clears Senate Committee; Up in House Committee Today

Thanks to your calls and support, a Florida Chamber-backed bill related to Assignment of Benefits (AOB) reform continues to make its way through the Senate. SB 122 sponsored by Senator Doug Broxson passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 18.

On March 19, the House companion bill, HB 7065, is set to be heard at 3:30 p.m. in the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee.

TAKE ACTION TODAY
Take two minutes to email members of the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee and voice your support for HB 7065.

 

A special thank you to Senator Broxson and co-sponsor Senator Ed Hooper for their leadership in making AOB reform a priority in the Senate. And thank you to Representative Bob Rommel and Representative Mike Caruso for also leading the fight for AOB reform in the House.

We’ll keep you posted as both bills continue through the legislative committee process.

Fixing Florida’s Broken Legal System

 

Download One Pager     Lawsuit Abuse Reform

 

Why It Matters to Florida

Lawsuit abuse in Florida is an increasingly serious and expensive problem, and thanks to a few in Florida’s Legislature, that keeps getting worse. Florida’s bottom five legal environment is an open invitation for “gotcha” lawsuits that cost Florida families an average of $4,442 each year in lawsuit abuse costs, and the American Tort Reform Association recently ranked Florida as the worst “Judicial Hellhole” in the nation, second only to California.

Florida’s Competitiveness Agenda

While Florida boasts a growing economy and job creation numbers that out-pace the national average, in order to ensure Florida is on the right path toward becoming the number one business climate in the nation, we must fix Florida’s broken lawsuit system.

A broken lawsuit climate creates:

  • Increases in claims, resulting in more than 34,000 Assignment of Benefits cases in 2018-up from 405 a decade ago.
  • Unjustified lawsuits that continue to burden medical professionals, creating an unfair medical liability environment.
  • Unstable insurance markets for both homeowners and auto-owners.

The Florida Chamber along with our partners at the Florida Justice Reform Institute and the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform will continue to push for common sense reforms that fix Florida’s broken legal system.

The Fight for Free Enterprise Continues

Lawyer billboards throughout Florida attest that lawsuits are big business here. But most Floridians aren’t fooled by ads proclaiming to be “for people” when in truth they usually mean “for the plaintiffs’ lawyers.” Until Florida’s courts are seen as fairer for all the people, the forecast for broader economic growth will be cloudy.

Act Now:

Join us in reforming Florida’s unfair lawsuit abuse climate by contacting Carolyn Johnson at cjohnson@flchamber.com.

Where the Candidates Stand on Lawsuit Abuse Reform?

Lawsuit abuse is driving up the cost of living for Florida voters and the cost of doing business for small and local businesses.

In 2017, the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) – for the first time in its history – named Florida as the nation’s worst “Judicial Hellhole.” In addition to the worst ATRA ranking (even worse than California,) the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform named Florida the fifth worst legal climate in America.

As highlighted in our Florida Wins education video, “Meet Mary,“ lawsuit abuse costs the average family of four more than $3,400 per year. The impact on Floridians who are trying to make ends meet while billboard trial lawyers profit off them is undeniable.

As you and your employees head to the polls to vote for Florida’ future, please know there is a difference between Andrew Gillum and Ron DeSantis. To learn more on where the candidates stand on lawsuit abuse reform, click here.

Find Out Where They Stand on Lawsuit Abuse Reform

Lawsuit abuse is a growing issue for Floridians and the next Governor needs a plan to tackle it. Click here to learn from the candidates on where they stand on lawsuit abuse reform.

Don’t Sign Your Rights Away

Assignment of benefits (AOB) insurance fraud continues to hurt Floridians and line the pockets of billboard trial lawyers. In the wake of Hurricane Michael, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Consumer Protection Coalition urge Floridians to not sign an AOB without consulting your insurance company. Click here to watch a Florida Wins video that highlights the dangers of AOB insurance fraud.

Florida Chamber Series on Free Enterprise: Allen McGlynn

 

Survey: How Does Lawsuit Abuse Affect You?   “Judicial Hellhole Report” Report   Meet Mary

 

Allen McGlynn, a member of the Florida Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and Tallahassee Regional Board Chair, talks about Assignment of Benefits (AOB) and prejudgment interest in this installation of the Florida Chamber’s Series on Free Enterprise Podcast.

“These Assignment of Benefits forms go much further, in that they attempt to transfer legal rights to the entire claim process, including the policyholders right to attorney fees, to the vendor or contractor themselves. This essentially removes the policyholder from the claims process,” McGlynn said. “It actually acts to make the policyholder, who is the homeowner, the subordinate of that contractor. The contractor now has total control over the homeowner and their insurance claim. They control the filing of the claim, the schedule and the scope of the repair or remediation work, the price of that work and any potential litigation relating to the claim.”

The AOB lawsuit scam was almost non-existent 15 years ago, but has now spread across Florida – leaving far too many homeowners holding the bill on this ‘get rich quick’ scheme developed by trial lawyers and shady repair vendors. In 2006, there were 405 AOB lawsuits in Florida and by 2016, that number had risen to 28,200. According to the Department of Financial Services, there has been a 90,000 percent increase in AOB lawsuits in Florida since 2000.

“Some unscrupulous vendors or contractors and their attornies use these AOB forms and the rights that may come with them to protect their questionable or fraudulent business practices,” McGlynn said. “They use the threat of large attornies fees to leverage settlements on fraudulent or inflated claims, which ends up creating upward pressure on everyone’s homeowner’s insurance rates. This has become a trend of epic proportions in Florida.”

 

Click Below to Listen to Allen McGlynn’s Podcast

 

 

Read What The WSJ Just Wrote

For the sixth time this year, the Wall Street Journal has highlighted Florida’s stormy legal climate. Read why legal reform is important to Florida in the latest editorial. Read the full article here. Take action to stop AOB lawsuits today. Share this podcast with your employees and fellow business leaders, and ask them to sign the petition to reign in AOB lawsuits.

 

Have You Met Mary?

We invite you to Meet Mary, a concerned Floridian whose family pays too much in frivolous lawsuit taxes. Mary is paying about $3,400 a year in lawsuit abuse taxes.

Florida’s Upcoming Special Session Offers Second Chance to Make Florida More Competitive

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Edie Ousley, 850-521-1231 or 850-251-6261
eousley@flchamber.com

 

The Florida Legislature now has until July 1 to reconvene and pass a budget.
The session could include all, none, or some combination of
the items that were in play during the regular session.

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (May 1, 2015) – The Florida Chamber of Commerce today announced that, while disappointed the 2015 regular session did not produce the anticipated results, the upcoming special legislative session will offer a second chance to make Florida more competitive.

“A special session, or several sessions, brings the hope that legislators can hit the reset button and pick up the business of making Florida more competitive,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber.

As media has widely reported, the Florida House and Senate remained $4.2 billion apart on their proposed budgets – primarily due to differing views on approaches to expanding healthcare coverage. As a consequence, lawmakers did not achieve their one constitutional duty of passing a balanced budget during the 60-day regular legislative session.

As a result, lawmakers will have a second chance to pass a budget during a special legislative session – which is constitutionally required before July 1. During that time, the Florida Chamber is hopeful lawmakers will make Florida more competitive by passing a budget that includes:

As Winston Churchill said:  “A pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

“The Florida Chamber encourages our state’s leaders to rally around a common bipartisan cause – and that cause is stronger and sustainable economic growth in order to expand opportunities for all Floridians,” Wilson added.

The Florida Chamber’s 2015 Legislative Summary outlines priorities from the Florida Chamber’s 2015 Competitiveness Agenda that passed during the recently completed regular legislative session, including the Florida Chamber-backed education accountability bill (signed into law by Governor Scott), a smart infrastructure bill designating freight and logistics zones, a growth leadership measure and private property rights bill.

Florida Chamber’s 2015 Competitiveness Agenda was developed based on input from Florida Chamber members, local chambers of commerce, partner associations, research, and unfinished business. The chamber’s agenda serves as a blueprint of legislative priorities that help secure Florida’s future and lead Florida to a new and sustainable economy.

 

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The Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations, aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Florida Chamber Releases A Smarter Healthcare Coverage Plan

 

Seven Part Plan Aims to Eliminate $1.4 Billion in Hidden Healthcare Tax on Floridians

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (January 13, 2014) – In its ongoing efforts to secure Florida’s future by making Florida more competitive, the Florida Chamber of Commerce today released its Smarter Healthcare Coverage in Florida plan. This seven-point comprehensive healthcare plan calls for bending the cost curve for Florida’s families and job creators by eliminating the $1.4 billion in hidden healthcare taxes.

The Florida Chamber remains significantly concerned about the growth of federal entitlements and resulting erosion of our freedoms, and therefore opposes the traditional expansion of Medicaid unless an alternative plan – one that embraces private solutions with flexible steps to eliminate the $1.4 billion cost shift on Florida families and caps Florida’s Medicaid budget at 32 percent – is put in place.

Unlike the federal government, and what some groups believe, expanding healthcare coverage should not be “an all or nothing deal”. The Florida Chamber’s Smarter Healthcare Coverage in Florida plan:

  • Eliminates the expensive and burdensome $1.4 billion hidden tax on Florida’s families and businesses,
  • Improves access to healthcare through innovation and an expanded field of healthcare professionals, and
  • Produces better health and economic outcomes by reducing fraud, lawsuit abuse and inflated workers’ comp costs.

Currently, Floridians pay an additional $1.4 billion in hidden healthcare taxes to cover healthcare received by the uninsured. That’s about $2,000 on insured Floridians for every hospital stay to cover the cost of the uninsured. And, uninsured healthcare costs are expected to rise as the federal government ends funding for the Low Income Pool (LIP).

With approval by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 28 states have initiated some version of flexible healthcare solutions to meet their states needs. Recently, the Florida Chamber urged HHS Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell to reopen conversations with Florida’s elected leaders, and work toward a Florida solution. Maximum flexibility to cover Florida’s uninsured would help prevent the $1.4 billion hidden tax forced onto families and job creators.

The Florida Chamber’s Smarter Healthcare Coverage in Florida plan will help ensure taxpayers benefit from accepting federal dollars instead of being punished by shifting even more costs of extended healthcare coverage to families and businesses. This plan is a cost efficient, sustainable healthcare model that provides coverage to the uninsured and eliminates the cost shift.

 

“As Florida prepares to welcome six million new residents by 2030, Florida has an important opportunity to get healthcare coverage right,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber. “As lawmakers consider ending the $1.4 billion cost shift on Floridians, the Florida Chamber is continuing to play an integral role in helping reform our state’s healthcare system.”

Florida Chamber’s Smarter Healthcare Coverage in Florida:

  1. Smarter Healthcare Coverage
    Eliminating the cost shift on Florida’s families and small businesses by addressing the cost equation. Limiting the overall financial impact on the Medicaid budget to no more than 32 percent, and providing allowing for a “flow through” of savings to Floridians in the form of lower insurance premiums.
  2. Healthcare Delivery System and Medical Professional Capacity
    Ensuring Florida’s healthcare delivery system has the capacity to respond at a high level of quality and meet the needs of Floridians. Allowing telemedicine to serve as an alternative healthcare delivery system, increasing the capacity and number of medical professionals by allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to practice to their fullest potential, and decreasing Florida’s growing need for physicians by expanding medical residency positions.
  3. Lawsuit Abuse Reform
    A Major Cost Driver: Attracting and retaining the best medical professional’s calls for improving on Florida’s bottom 10 legal environment and preventing meritless lawsuits and penalties that deter doctors from entering the medical field.
  4. Workers’ Compensation
    A Major Cost Driver: Ensuring Florida’s workers’ comp system is fair and not inflated by trial lawyer tactics and other unnecessary costs will help lower the cost of doing business in Florida.
  5. Healthcare Fraud
    A Major Cost Driver: Eliminating healthcare fraud and abuse will lower total healthcare costs.
  6. Step Therapy and Prior Authorization
    Opposing current legislation that would undermine the use of prior authorization and step therapy protocols in Florida.
  7. Medicaid Managed Care
    Opposing efforts to undermine the tenets of the managed care model – including the so-called ‘any willing provider’ provision.

Download a copy of the Florida Chamber’s Smarter Healthcare Plan for Florida by clicking here or by visiting www.FloridaChamber.com/HealthCareSolutions.

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The Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations, aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Florida Chamber’s ‘Smarter Healthcare’ Plan Aims to Eliminate $1.4 Billion in Hidden Tax

By: Sunshine State News

In its ongoing efforts to secure Florida’s future by making Florida more competitive, the Florida Chamber of Commerce today released its Smarter Healthcare Coverage in Florida plan.

The chamber’s seven-point comprehensive health care plan calls for “bending the cost curve for Florida’s families and job creators by eliminating the $1.4 billion in hidden health care taxes.”
In a prepared announcement, the Florida Chamber said it remains significantly concerned about the growth of federal entitlements and resulting erosion of our freedoms, and therefore “opposes the traditional expansion of Medicaid unless an alternative plan – one that embraces private solutions with flexible steps to eliminate the $1.4 billion cost shift on Florida families and caps Florida’s Medicaid budget at 32 percent – is put in place.”

Said Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber, “As Florida prepares to welcome 6 million new residents by 2030, Florida has an important opportunity to get health care coverage right. As lawmakers consider ending the $1.4 billion cost shift on Floridians, the Florida Chamber is continuing to play an integral role in helping reform our state’s health care system.”

Wilson claims, unlike the federal government, and what some groups believe, expanding health care coverage should not be “an all or nothing deal.” The Florida Chamber says its Smarter Healthcare Coverage in Florida plan does this:

  • Eliminates the expensive and burdensome $1.4 billion hidden tax on Florida’s families and businesses,
  • Improves access to health care through innovation and an expanded field of health care professionals, and
  • Produces better health and economic outcomes by reducing fraud, lawsuit abuse and inflated workers’ comp costs.
  • Currently, Floridians pay an additional $1.4 billion in hidden health care taxes to cover health care received by the uninsured. That’s about $2,000 on insured Floridians for every hospital stay to cover the cost of the uninsured. And, uninsured health care costs are expected to rise as the federal government ends funding for the Low Income Pool (LIP).

With approval by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 28 states have initiated some version of flexible health care solutions to meet their states’ needs. Recently, the Florida Chamber urged HHS Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell to reopen conversations with Florida’s elected leaders, and work toward a Florida solution. Maximum flexibility to cover Florida’s uninsured would help prevent the $1.4 billion hidden tax forced onto families and job creators.

The Florida Chamber’s Smarter Healthcare Coverage in Florida plan has been designed to help ensure taxpayers benefit from accepting federal dollars instead of being punished by shifting even more costs of extended health care coverage to families and businesses. “This plan is a cost-efficient, sustainable health care model that provides coverage to the uninsured and eliminates the cost shift,” says the chamber.

Florida Chamber’s Smarter Healthcare Coverage in Florida:

  • Smarter Healthcare Coverage: Eliminating the cost shift on Florida’s families and small businesses by addressing the cost equation. Limiting the overall financial impact on the Medicaid budget to no more than 32 percent, and providing allowing for a “flow through” of savings to Floridians in the form of lower insurance premiums.
  • Health Care Delivery System and Medical Professional Capacity: Ensuring Florida’s health care delivery system has the capacity to respond at a high level of quality and meet the needs of Floridians. Allowing telemedicine to serve as an alternative health care delivery system, increasing the capacity and number of medical professionals by allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to practice to their fullest potential, and decreasing Florida’s growing need for physicians by expanding medical residency positions.
  • Lawsuit Abuse Reform – A Major Cost Driver: Attracting and retaining the best medical professionals and preventing meritless lawsuits and penalties that deter doctors from entering the medical field.
  • Workers’ Compensation – A Major Cost Driver: Ensuring Florida’s workers’ comp system is fair and not inflated by trial lawyer tactics and other unnecessary costs will help lower the cost of doing business in Florida.
  • Health Care Fraud – A Major Cost Driver: Eliminating health care fraud and abuse will lower total health care costs.
  • Step Therapy and Prior Authorization: Opposing current legislation that would undermine the use of prior authorization and step therapy protocols in Florida.
  • Medicaid Managed Care: Opposing efforts to undermine the tenets of the managed care model – including the so-called ‘any willing provider’ provision.

Download a copy of the Florida Chamber’s Smarter Healthcare Plan for Florida by clicking here or by visiting www.FloridaChamber.com/HealthCareSolutions.