The state’s largest automobile insurance company said its call to support new personal injury protection, or PIP, reforms has generated a lot of support.
“The response from policyholders has been very strong,” said New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Co. spokesman Patrick W. Breslin. “About 500 letters a day are being sent to the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance through our website, and as of noon Monday, about 10,194 letters have been sent that way.”
The state agency is considering a number of ideas, including expanding the number of procedures subject to reimbursement limits under PIP, as a way to slow down the rise in car insurance costs. It’s taking comments through September.
NJM sent hard-copy letters signed by CEO Bernard M. Flynn to each of its 425,000 shareholders, encouraging them to go online to submit a statement to DOBI. Additionally, Breslin said, “we’re also getting phone calls from people who don’t have access to a computer, who told us they’ll mail letters to DOBI.”
The New Jersey Association of Ambulatory Surgery Centers supports DOBI’s efforts, but took issue with certain parts of the NJM letter, said Jeffrey Shanton, chair of the organization’s advocacy and legislative affairs committee.
He pointed to the letter’s contention that even under the proposed fee schedule, insurers’ payments “would still be far above the Medicare rate, and much greater than what private health insurers pay for surgeries, which is usually 35 percent to 40 percent more than Medicare.”
“PIP needs to be streamlined,” Shanton said. “But the Medicare fee schedule was developed to cover a niche population — the elderly and disabled — which does not necessarily reflect the greater population that’s typically covered by PIP.”
He also took issue with NJM’s position that “the legal fee should never be more than the award,” when a medical provider’s fee is disputed and the case goes to arbitration.
“We disagree with NJM’s blanket solution,” Shanton said. “Money that is correctly owed to a provider should be paid, and sometimes their only recourse is to hire an attorney to collect it. We concur with DOBI’s attempts to reduce arbitration costs, but the carriers are going to have pay us correctly.”